What is stomach cancer?
Stomach cancer is a malignant growth of cells lining the stomach. These are glandular type cells that produce stomach acid, protective mucus and digestive enzymes. The stomach lies in the upper abdomen; it is joined to the oesophagus at one end. The oesophagus carries food from the mouth into the stomach. Food travels from the stomach to the small intestine. The first part of the small intestine is called the duodenum.
95% of stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas. Rare types of stomach cancer include lymphoma, sarcoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) - these are not covered by this guidance.
Stomach cancer is more common in people with the following characteristics or ‘risk factors’:
- age over 55
- people who smoke
- eat a lot of preserved or salty foods
- have had peptic ulcer disease
- have had an operation for peptic ulcer disease
- ‘helicobacter pylori’ infection
Incidence / Prevalence
8500 people develop stomach cancer each year in the UK. The five year survival of people with stomach cancer is low at 10-15%. This is because stomach cancer often causes only minor symptoms until the disease is advanced. Many people who are diagnosed with stomach cancer are incurable from the outset and will become terminally ill. There is no screening programme for stomach cancer. About 5600 people die from the disease every year.
Amended November 2008