Gastrointestinal Cancer

Gastric (stomach) cancer is cancer that forms in tissues lining the stomach, also referred to as gastric cancer. The stomach is a hollow organ in the upper abdomen, under the ribs. It's part of the digestive system. Food moves from the mouth through the esophagus to the stomach. In the stomach, the food becomes liquid. Muscles in the stomach wall push the liquid into the small intestine. The wall of the stomach has five layers: Inner layer or lining (mucosa): Juices made by glands in the inner layer help digest food. Most stomach cancers begin in this layer, submucosa: This is the support tissue for the inner layer, muscle layer: muscles in this layer contract to mix and mash the food, subserosa: This is the support tissue for the outer layer, outer layer (serosa): The outer layer covers the stomach. It holds the stomach in place.

 

Staging for Gastric/Stomach Cancer

 

If the biopsy shows that you have stomach cancer, your doctor needs to learn the stage (extent) of the disease to help you choose the best treatment.

These are the stages of stomach cancer:

Stage 0: The tumor is found only in the inner layer of the stomach. Stage 0 is also called carcinoma in situ.

Stage I is one of the following:

  • The tumor has invaded only the submucosa. (The picture shows the layers of the stomach.) Cancer cells may be found in up to 6 lymph nodes.
  • Or, the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage II is one of the following:

  • The tumor has invaded only the submucosa. Cancer cells have spread to 7 to 15 lymph nodes.
  • Or, the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have spread to 1 to 6 lymph nodes.
  • Or, the tumor has penetrated the outer layer of the stomach. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage III is one of the following:

  • The tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have spread to 7 to 15 lymph nodes.
  • Or, the tumor has penetrated the outer layer. Cancer cells have spread to 1 to 15 lymph nodes.
  • Or, the tumor has invaded nearby organs, such as the liver, colon, or spleen. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or to distant organs.

Stage IV is one of the following:

  • Cancer cells have spread to more than 15 lymph nodes.
  • Or, the tumor has invaded nearby organs and at least 1 lymph node.
  • Or, cancer cells have spread to distant organs.

 

Treatment of Gastric/Stomach Cancer

 

The choice of treatment depends mainly on the size and location of the tumor, the stage of disease, and your general health. Treatment for stomach cancer may involve surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. You might receive more than one type of treatment. For example, chemotherapy may be given before or after surgery. It's often given at the same time as radiation therapy. You may want to talk with your doctor about taking part in a clinical trial, a research study of new treatment methods. Clinical trials are an important option for people at any stage of stomach cancer.

Search for clinical trials in Georgia.

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's PDQ Database: http://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach. (Accessed July 2016)