Stomach Cancer Overview

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is cancer developing from the inside lining of the stomach or the stomach wall. 

The incidence and mortality of stomach cancer have fallen dramatically worldwide in the past several decades. Nevertheless, it remains a major health issue and despite its recent decline, gastric cancer is the fourth most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide.

Almost 90% of all stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas, either well-differentiated or undifferentiated.

Interestingly enough, gastric cancer incidence shows a geographic variation around the globe. Japan, Korea and certain south American countries have the highest rates of stomach cancer around the globe. On the contrary, western European and Mediterranean countries have the lowest stomach cancer rates.

Risk factors for developing stomach cancer

Stomach cancer, as most cancers, is a multifactorial disease. Although, there is no definite underlying cause and etiology, several environmental and other factors have been implicated to increase the risk for developing stomach cancer.

  • Helicobacter Pylori is a gram-negative microbe that colonizes the stomach of about 50% of individuals by the age of 50 years. The association between H Pylori chronic infection and the development of gastric cancer is well-established and is strongly supported by several case-control studies.
  • Dietary factors. There is strong evidence that consumption of salty and smoked foods combined with a low intake of fresh fruits and vegetables increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.
  • Smoking is one of the environmental factors that are closely related with the incidence of most types of cancers, including stomach cancer.
  • Obesity promotes GE reflux and Barrett’s esophagus, the latter being a condition that predisposes to cancer of the esophagus and GE junction.
  • Male gender. Overall, men are affected twice as much compared to women.