Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer is a growth of cancer cells in the inner lining of the stomach that may grow into a tumour. The stomach is part of the digestive system that aids in digestion of food. Stomach cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among Indian men and women between the age of 15 and 44 and the likelihood of men getting diagnosed is 2 to 4 times more than women.

What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer is usually not detected at an early stage since symptoms are not always present at that stage. If symptoms do occur, they might include indigestion and pain in the upper part of the belly. Other symptoms of stomach cancer include:

  • Pain in stomach
  • Feeling bloated after eating
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Feeling full even after eating minimal food portions
  • Not feeling hungry at regular food times
  • Acidity/Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Mild nausea

If the tumour grows, serious symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss for no reason
  • Feeling of extreme tiredness
  • Black stools

What are the types of stomach cancer?

The types of stomach cancer depend on the type of tissue affected by it:

  1. The most common cancer (Adenocarcinomas) starts in the glandular stomach lining.
  2. Cancer developed from lymphocytes (Lymphomas) – a blood cell of immune system.
  3. Cancer involving connective tissue (Sarcomas) like muscle, fat or blood vessels.
  4. Cancer from breast, melanoma and other primary sites travelled to stomach (metastatic cancer)

What are the causes and risk factors of stomach cancer?

The exact causes of stomach cancer is not known, but there are a few risk factors that increase the likelihood of getting stomach cancer. They are:

  • Infection of bacteria H.Pylori that cause ulcers
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the gut)
  • A long-lasting anaemia (pernicious anaemia)
  • Polyps (growths in stomach)
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight
  • High consumption of foods high in salt, smoked or pickled
  • A diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Regular alcohol consumption
  • An ulcer surgery of the stomach
  • Type-A blood
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection
  • In many cases, working in asbestos factory.
  • Family history of gastric cancer or certain hereditary factors

How Is stomach cancer diagnosed?

The doctor does not get tests for stomach cancer as it is pretty uncommon. For people at higher risk, the doctor may conduct the following tests after a physical exam and medical history.

Blood tests – for signs of cancer in the body

Upper endoscopy – A thin, flexible tube inserted with a small camera down the throat to check into the stomach.

Upper GI series test: A chalky liquid with a substance called barium is injected and that fluid coats the stomach and is clearly seen in the X-Ray.

CT scan: A powerful X-ray designed to make detailed pictures of the inside the body.

Biopsy: A small piece of tissue from the stomach is taken and checked for signs of cancer cells.

What is the treatment of stomach cancer?

Depending on location of cancer, the stages of stomach cancer are numbers from 0 to 4 and the treatment of cancer varies on the stage of the cancer.

Stage 0 – Small cancer, only on the inside surface of the stomach.

Stage 1 – Cancer shows presence into inner layers of the stomach.

Stage 2 and stage 3 – Cancer grows deeper into the stomach wall and may have spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Stage 4 – Cancer spread may be through the stomach and even into nearby organs. It also includes cancers that may have spread to other body parts (metastatic cancer)

Treatment of cancer may be giving post staging. Post surgery or chemotherapy, new staging might be given be the doctor.

The treatment of stomach cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and palliative care.

    1. Surgery:

Surgery depends on if the cancer has to be removed or not. If it is unadvisable to be removed, then surgery to manage cancer is done.

Removal of stomach cancer:

Early detection of stomach cancer and if the cancer is restricted to the stomach or only spread nearby, a removal surgery may be performed. A part or all of the stomach may be removed and other parts around the stomach may be removed. Post surgical recovery takes a long time and it is better to understand all the benefits and side effects before surgery.

Help control symptoms of stomach cancer:

Surgery to relieve blockage in the stomach thereby helping food pass through the stomach more easily may be conducted. The aim here is improve symptoms of stomach cancer, not cure it.

    1. Chemotherapy:

A drug treatment using chemicals to kill cancer cells is called chemotherapy.

Types of chemotherapy are:

Chemotherapy travelling through your whole body (systemic chemotherapy): Most common type of chemotherapy travelling through the whole-body killing cancer cells. Medicines are generally given orally or by injecting into a vein.

Chemotherapy only goes into the stomach (HIPEC): Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy – done right after surgery. Post stomach cancer removal, chemotherapy medicines are directly administered to the belly. The medicines are heated, and the chemotherapy is left in place for some time before draining them out.
Chemotherapy is generally not needed in stage 1 if surgery is removed all of the cancer. It is helpful in stage 2 and 3 before surgery to shrink the cancer making it easier to remove.

    1. Radiation therapy:

High-energy rays of radiation are used to kill cancer cells in radiation therapy. In
Radiation therapy with chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy) is given to help recurrence of cancer or also to help control and improve the symptoms for advanced cancer.

  1. Targeted medicines and immunotherapy are given to stop the cancer from growing and to help the immune system to kill cancer.

How can stomach cancer be prevented?

Certain factors may lower risk of cancer:

  • Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables and choosing a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Reducing salty foods and smoked foods.
  • Quit smoking. If a person does not smoke, they shouldn’t start smoking. Smoking increases your risk of stomach cancer and many other types of cancer. Quitting may be difficult, but help can be taken.
  • Conduct regular screening tests if there is a family history of stomach cancer or cancer by consulting the doctor.


  1. Stomach cancer. NHS UK. December 2023.
  2. Nagini S. Carcinoma of the stomach: A review of epidemiology, pathogenesis, molecular genetics and chemoprevention. World J Gastrointest Oncol 2012; 4(7): 156-169
  3. Susan Bernstein. Stomach Cancer. December 2023.
  4. Stomach Cancer. WebMD. December 2023.

Select your Location

Please select your nearest location from the list below