Stomach (Gastric) Cancer

Gastric cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the lining of the stomach.

The stomach is a J-shaped organ in the upper abdomen.  It is part of the digestive system, which processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) in foods that are eaten and helps pass waste material out of the body.  Food moves from the throat to the stomach through a hollow, muscular tube called the oesophagus.  After leaving the stomach, partly-digested food passes into the small intestine and then into the large intestine.
Stomach CancerThe stomach and oesophagus are part of the upper digestive system. Image courtesy of the National Cancer Institute

The wall of the stomach is made up of 3 layers of tissue: the mucosal (innermost) layer, the muscularis (middle) layer, and the serosal (outermost) layer.  Gastric cancer begins in the cells lining the mucosal layer and spreads through the outer layers as it grows.
Stromal tumours of the stomach begin in supporting connective tissue and are treated differently from gastric cancer. 

Click here for a downloadable PDF with more information about the symptoms, risks and treatment options for stomach cancer.

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