Norton Cancer Institute, the leading provider of cancer care in Louisville and Southern Indiana, offers same-day appointments for patients newly diagnosed stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer. If you’ve been diagnosed with stomach cancer, you want to start getting better right away.
Our board-certified and fellowship-trained oncologists are leaders in their field. They’re at the forefront of developing innovative approaches to getting patients back to living their lives.
You’ll have a one-on-one relationship with your oncologist, surgeon, radiation oncologist or other specialist at Norton Cancer Institute.
What Causes Stomach Cancer?
A precise cause of stomach cancer is not known. Risk factors include:
- An immediate family member with stomach cancer (parents, brothers, or sisters)
- A diet high in smoked, salted foods and low in fruits and vegetables
- Being older and male
- Existing medical conditions such as:
- Certain stomach infections
- Pernicious anemia
- Chronic stomach inflammation (atrophic gastritis)
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or gastric polyps
Stomach (gastric) cancer affects the tissues of the stomach, starting with the innermost, mucus-producing layer of the stomach lining. This layer is prone to inflammation — gastritis — that can lead to peptic ulcers and eventually stomach cancer.
Sometimes the cancer can grow into a tumor that can affect surrounding organs, including the liver or esophagus. Cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes.
Cancer in the main part of the stomach has decreased dramatically in recent decades. It remains one of the most common and deadly cancers worldwide, but is not common in the United States.
The reason for the dramatic decline in stomach cancer cases in the United States in recent decades is not clear. Changes in food preservation and less salt in the diet may be a reason.
Some credit the prevention and treatment of a common bacterial infection — Helicobacter pylori — for reducing the number of cancer cases in the main stomach. But, it is suspected those strides have contributed to an increase in cancers where the esophagus meets the stomach. While increasing, this type of cancer remains rare.
Cancer at the junction of the esophagus and stomach is also associated with gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), which is caused by stomach acid frequently flowing backward into the esophagus.
Stomach Cancer Symptoms
By the time stomach cancer is causing symptoms, it typically has advanced to a stage that is more difficult to treat. If caught early and treated with surgery, the survival rates for stomach cancer are very high.
If cancer is found before the symptoms are noticed, it’s usually an accident — the patient was being checked for something else and the cancer was discovered.
Symptoms of stomach cancer include:
- Lack of appetite
- Unexplained vomiting
- Severe, persistent heartburn or indigestion
- Blood in the stool
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling full early when eating
Stomach Cancer Treatment Customized for You
Treatment options for stomach cancer vary based on the patient and include:
- Surgery to remove all or part of the stomach, including possibly the spleen, parts of the esophagus, small intestine and other tissues near the tumor
- Endoscopic mucosal resection to remove early-stage cancer and precancerous growths through a nonsurgical procedure that uses a thin tube equipped with a camera and tools to remove growths
- Chemotherapy drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells
- Radiation therapy
- Chemoradiation, combination of chemotherapy and radiation typically administered after surgery
- Targeted therapy using drugs such as monoclonal antibodies to attack specific cancer cells
- Immunotherapy, using the patient’s immune system to attack cancer. The goal is to boost, target or restore the body’s natural ability to fight cancer.
The specialists at Norton Cancer Institute use the latest equipment and procedures to make a precise diagnosis of your cancer. Our multidisciplinary approach with multiple specialists in one setting means we offer a full range of stomach cancer treatments and consider viewpoints from a range of clinicians before deciding on a treatment plan.
Our advanced testing options will help your specialist determine a care plan that’s tailored for you based on the stage of your cancer and your treatment goals. Your comprehensive care team of physicians and other health care providers meets regularly to review your case and plan the next steps.
The Norton Cancer Institute multidisciplinary team of specialists includes oncologists, gastroenterologists, surgeons and others to provide comprehensive care.
In addition to our current leading-edge treatments, we offer our patients the opportunity to participate in innovative National Cancer Institute- and industry-sponsored clinical research studies. These trials help to improve current cancer treatments in addition to finding new and promising solutions.
If radiation therapy is part of the treatment plan, we map the exact shape and location of your tumor, then direct cancer-killing radiation at just the tumor, minimizing the impact on healthy tissue and reducing side effects.