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Stomach Cancer

When you eat, your food travels from your mouth to your esophagus to your stomach, a small pouch where juices break food down before it enters your small intestine. Cancer that develops in the stomach usually starts in its inner lining.

Stomach cancer: what you should know

  • Most people who develop stomach cancer are older than 70.
  • In addition to age, other risk factors for stomach cancer include the following:
    • Infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori)
    • Smoking
    • Family history of stomach cancer
  • Most people with these risk factors will not develop stomach cancer.
  • In addition to not smoking, eating a diet that includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables may decrease your risk of developing cancer. 

How can I get help for stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer can be hard to detect because in many cases it does not cause symptoms in its early stages. But in it may cause some of the following symptoms, especially in its later stages:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or lumps in the abdomen
  • Blood in your stool or vomit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bloating or feeling full after eating only a small amount of food
  • Stomach pain

Most of the time, having these symptoms doesn’t mean you have stomach cancer. Many other conditions have similar symptoms. See a doctor if you have any of these symptoms and it doesn’t go away.

If you are diagnosed with stomach cancer, your doctor will likely refer to you a specialist in gastrointestinal cancers who can confirm the diagnosis and determine the stage and extent of the disease. 

Care for stomach cancer at Rush

Doctors at Rush will work with you to determine the best course of treatment. The kind of treatment you need will depend on many factors, including the stage of your cancer, your overall health and any other conditions you may have. Rush welcomes patients seeking second opinions.

Your care at Rush may involve one or more of the following:

  • Surgery: Surgeons may remove part or all of your stomach, depending on the location, stage and size of the cancer. If they need to remove the whole organ, they will attach your esophagus directly to your small intestine.
  • Chemotherapy: Doctors at Rush offer the latest cancer-fighting drugs.
  • Radiation therapy: Doctors at Rush use advanced technologies that target the cancer with high doses of radiation while protecting surrounding tissue
  • Complementary therapies: Rush has a Cancer Integrative Medicine Program that offers massage, yoga, biofeedback and other therapies to help you cope with pain, loss of energy and other challenges related to cancer.

Why choose Rush for stomach cancer care?

  • U.S. News & World Report ranks Rush’s cancer program among the best in the country.
  • The Rush University Cancer Center has been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Rush has received this award, which is given every three years, each time it has been evaluated by the Commission on Cancer.
  • Many patients at Rush receive care at the Rush University Cancer Center’s Coleman Foundation Comprehensive Clinic for Gastrointestinal Cancers. At the clinic, specialists combine their expertise to consider all the options and create a treatment plan tailored to the patient’s needs.

Departments and programs that treat this condition