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Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer Introduction

The stomach is a muscular bag with a capacity of about 1 liter or quart. It lies along the digestive tract between the esophagus and the small intestine. The stomach serves as a reservoir for food eaten during meals and begins the process of digestion. Its inner walls are composed of glands that secrete acid and digestive enzymes.

The most common form of cancer that affects the stomach is adenocarcinoma, which arises in the glands of the innermost layer of the stomach. This tumor tends to spread through the wall of the stomach and from there into the adjoining organs (pancreas and spleen) and lymph nodes. It can spread through the bloodstream and lymph system to distant organs (metastasize).

  • The incidence and death rates for stomach cancer have decreased markedly during the past 60 years. In 1930, stomach cancer was the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American men. Since then, the death rate in men from stomach cancer in the United States has dropped from 28 to 5 per 100,000 people.

  • In 1996, about 22,800 new cases of stomach cancer were diagnosed in the United States, and 14,000 Americans died of the disease. This form of cancer is 1.5-2.5 times more common in African American, Hispanic, and Native American people than in whites.

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