Adenocarcinoma is a common cancer of the digestive tract. It is not very common in the United States and the number of people who develop this cancer has decreased over the years. Experts think this decrease may be in part because people are eating less salted, cured, and smoked foods.

You are more likely to be diagnosed with this gastric cancer if you:

  • Have a diet low in fruits and vegetables
  • Have a family history of gastric cancer
  • Have an infection of the stomach by a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori
  • Had a polyp (abnormal growth) larger than 2 centimeters in your stomach
  • Have inflammation and swelling of the stomach for a long time (chronic atrophic gastritis)
  • Have pernicious anemia (low number of red blood cells from intestines not properly absorbing vitamin B12)
  • Smoke

Stomach Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms of stomach cancer may include any of the following:

  • Abdominal fullness or pain, which may occur after a small meal
  • Dark stools
  • Difficulty swallowing, which becomes worse over time
  • Excessive belching
  • General decline in health
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting blood
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Weight loss

Stomach Cancer Diagnosis

Diagnosis is often delayed because symptoms may not occur in the early stages of the disease. And many of the symptoms do not specifically point to stomach cancer. So, people often self-treat symptoms that gastric cancer has in common with other, less serious, disorders (bloating, gas, heartburn, and fullness).

Tests that can help diagnose gastric cancer include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) to check for anemia.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) with biopsy to examine the stomach tissue. EGD involves putting a tiny camera down the esophagus (food tube) to look at the inside of the stomach.
  • Stool test to check for blood in the stools.

Multidisciplinary Approach to Stomach Cancer Treatment

Surgery to remove the stomach (gastrectomy) is the standard treatment that can cure adenocarcinoma of the stomach. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy after surgery may improve the chance of a cure.

For people who cannot have surgery, chemotherapy or radiation may improve symptoms and may prolong survival, but may not cure the cancer. For some people, a surgical bypass procedure may relieve symptoms.

With advanced cancer, the goal of treatment is to manage pain and other symptoms.

At the Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center, management of gastrointestinal cancers focuses on preventive measures, early detection and the most advanced forms of treatment.

Some of these cancers are among the most complex and difficult to treat, and patients can take comfort in knowing they are being treated by a team of specialists that is among the most experienced in the country.

It is because of our multidisciplinary approach to cancer treatment, that we have been designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only 41 in the country.