Overview of Stomach (Gastric) Cancer: How Stomach Cancer Develops

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With the increase in the amount of people diagnosed with cancer, the increase in the stomach or gastric cancer rates is the exception. It has been shown that the number of people in a particular country with stomach cancer can vary greatly. So even though there has been a decrease in the amount of people with stomach cancer, anyone diagnosed with it might only have a small survival rate. In America, at least two percent of people dying from cancer will have been diagnosed with stomach cancer, and at least twenty percent will survive for five years after diagnosis.


Like most cancers, there is no clear evidence on how it originates, and if the cause were known then it would give a better understanding on how to treat it. Many scientists believe that this type of cancer can have varied factors that contribute to its formation. For example, someone’s diet and the amount of preservatives in food, or a person’s lifestyle such as if they are a smoker can contribute to cancer.

Other potential causes of gastric cancer can be a Helicobacter pylori infection that causes chronic gastritis leading to changes in the normal cells called metaplasia and eventually cancer cell occurrence. It is believed that a chronic condition must occur and the body’s defense mechanisms must be compromised resulting in cell DNA mutations. Afterwards, the cancer cells will grow out of control.

The stomach consists of three sections, the Cardia, Body, Fundus and Antrum. At least half of all the stomach cancers occur within the Antrum of the stomach. This is where the secretory cells are located. There remaining half of the cancers are equally divided into quarter portions between the Body and the Cardia of the stomach.


In early stages of the cancer, the cells will be only found in the first two layers called the Mucosa and Submucosa. These layers form the lining of the stomach. However, as the cancer progresses, it will enter into the Submucosa. As the cancer becomes more advanced, the stomach loses its natural softness and elasticity to become rigid and firm. The problem with most cancers, including stomach cancer, is it might metastases to other parts of the body. Thus stomach cancer has the potential to move to the lymph nodes or metastases to the ovaries and form secondary ovarian cancer.


Usually the symptoms of stomach cancer are varied. Often there will be an upset stomach with potential loss of appetite. The person can lose weight or feel pain in the abdomen. Bleeding and hemorrhaging may occur in advanced disease states. This can lead potentially lead to anemia. The intestines may become involved result in either diarrhea or constipation. In some cases, the person experiences difficulty swallowing.


The survival rate is about five years with only fifteen percent surviving in severe cases. Whereas, a five year survival rate is possible, with ninety percent surviving, in the early stages of this disease. Therefore, survival is helped by detecting stomach or gastric cancer in the early stages.

Print Source: Davidson, Stanley & C. Haslett. 2002. “Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine.” Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh.

Web Source: National Cancer Institute. “Stomach (Gastric) Cancer.” 2009. Available:https://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/stomach