November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, which makes this a good time to learn more about stomach cancer.
More than 26,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with stomach cancer this year, and more than 11,000 people will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Stomach cancer accounts for about 1.5% of all new cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, can affect any part of the stomach. In most of the world, stomach cancers form in the main part of the stomach. In the U.S., stomach cancer is more likely to affect the area where the esophagus meets the stomach. Where the cancer occurs in the stomach is one factor health care providers consider when determining treatment options.
Signs and symptoms of stomach cancer can include:
It's not clear what causes stomach cancer, though research has identified many factors that can increase the risk. Factors that increase the risk of stomach cancer include gastroesophageal reflux disease; obesity; a diet high in salty, smoked foods, or one low in fruits and vegetables; and smoking. People with a family history of stomach cancer also are at increased risk of developing the disease.
Strategies to reduce your risk of stomach cancer include:
If you've been diagnosed with stomach cancer, your health care provider will consider the stage of your cancer, as well as your overall health and personal preferences, to determine your treatment plan. This may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy, immunotherapy and palliative care.