The stomach is in the upper left-hand side of the tummy area (abdomen). It is a stretchy, muscular bag, which stores food and helps to break it down (digestion).
Cancer can develop in the stomach. This is called stomach cancer or sometimes gastric cancer. Stomach cancer may spread to other parts of the body and can spread to lymph nodes close to the stomach.
The risk of developing stomach cancer increases as we get older. Over half of people who develop it are 75 or older. It is more common in men than in women.
Types of stomach cancer
This information is about adenocarcinoma. This is the most common type of stomach cancer. It starts in the glandular cells of the stomach lining.
We have more information on other types of stomach cancer.
Early symptoms of stomach cancer can be like symptoms of common stomach conditions.
Common symptoms can include:
- heartburn that does not go away
- loss of appetite.
It is important to get any symptoms checked by your GP.
We have more information about signs and symptoms of stomach cancer.
Doctors do not know exactly what causes stomach cancer. There are certain things that can increase the chance of developing stomach cancer. These are called risk factors.
Some of the risk factors linked to stomach cancer include:
We have more information about the causes and risk factors of stomach cancer.
If you have symptoms, you usually begin by seeing your GP. If they think think that your symptoms could be caused by cancer, they will refer you to the hospital for tests.
Tests for stomach cancer
We have more detailed information about how stomach cancer is diagnosed. This includes information about what happens when you see your GP, tests you may have if you cannot have an endoscopy and more information about further tests.
Waiting for test results can be a difficult time, we have more information that can help.
The results of your tests help your doctors find out more about the position of the cancer and whether it has spread. This is called staging.
A doctor decides the grade of the cancer by how the cancer cells look under the microscope. This gives an idea of how quickly the cancer might grow or spread.
We have more information about staging and grading of stomach cancer.
A team of specialists will meet to discuss the best possible treatment for you. This is called a multidisciplinary team (MDT).
Your cancer doctor or specialist nurse will explain the different treatments and their side effects. They will also talk to you about things to consider when making treatment decisions.
Your treatment for stomach cancer depends on:
- the stage of the cancer
- your general health
- your personal choices.
The main treatments for stomach cancer are:
Other treatments may include:
Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays to treat cancer. It destroys cancer cells in the area where the radiotherapy is given. It can be given with chemotherapy after surgery to reduce the risk of cancer coming back or to help symptoms, such as bleeding from the stomach.
The treatments can be used alone or in combination with each other. You may also have treatments as part of a clinical trial.
We have more information about treatment for stomach cancer.
After your treatment has finished, you will have regular follow-up appointments. You will usually talk with someone from your healthcare team at the appointment. This may be your surgeon, cancer doctor, specialist nurse or another health professional.
If you have any problems or new symptoms between appointments, tell your cancer doctor or specialist nurse as soon as possible.
Eating after treatment for stomach cancer
Changes in your diet
Gradually, you will be able to start eating solid foods again. It will help if there are no large lumps of food. Try to chew everything well. You may worry about eating solid foods at first. This should get easier as you become more used to having a normal diet again.
Your dietitian will talk to you about your diet and give you advice to help you recover from treatment. If you have any questions or worries about eating after you have gone home, contact the dietitian or your specialist nurse for advice.