Author Topic: What is stomach cancer?  (Read 2214 times)

Offline Tony

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What is stomach cancer?
« on: October 01, 2012, 09:45:34 AM »
What is stomach cancer?

The stomach is a muscular sac-like organ in the upper abdomen. It is part of the digestive system. Organs of the digestive system change food into energy and help pass waste out of the body.

Food moves from the mouth through the esophagus to the stomach. In the stomach, the food is mixed with digestive juices (enzymes and acids), which are made by the glands in the lining of the stomach. The semi-solid mixture leaves the stomach through a muscular ring called the pylorus and passes into the small intestine. From there, food goes to the large intestine, where digestion is finished.

The wall of the stomach has four layers. Stomach cancer begins in the cells of the inner layer, which is called the mucosa. It can spread through the other layers of the stomach as it grows.

Stomach cancers that start in the lymphatic tissue (lymphoma), in the stomach’s muscular tissue (sarcoma) or in the tissues that support the organs of the digestive system (gastrointestinal stromal tumour) are less common and are treated in different ways. For information on those cancers, contact our Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

What is esophageal cancer?

Esophageal cancer starts in the cells of the esophagus. The esophagus is a hollow, muscular tube that carries food and drink from the back of the mouth to the stomach. It is located behind the windpipe and in front of the spine. When you swallow, the muscles of the esophagus contract to push food down into the stomach. The point where the esophagus joins the stomach is called the gastroesophageal (GE) junction. The muscle at the junction opens to allow food to enter the stomach. This muscle normally keeps stomach acid from flowing back up into the esophagus and causing heartburn.

Cancer of the esophagus can start anywhere along the length of the esophagus. There are two main types of esophageal cancer. Each develops in a different kind of cell.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma starts in the squamous cells that line the esophagus. These cancers are usually found in the upper and middle part of the esophagus.
  • Adenocarcinoma starts in the glandular cells in the lower part of the esophagus.

Treatment is similar for both types of esophageal cancer.

Before esophageal cancer develops, the cells of the esophagus start to change and become abnormal. These abnormal cells are precancerous, meaning they are not cancer. Having these precancerous changes in the esophagus is called Barrett’s esophagus.

Barrett’s esophagus may be caused by years of gastric reflux. Gastric reflux is when the stomach acid backs up into the esophagus and causes heartburn. Most people with chronic gastric reflux do not develop Barrett’s esophagus. But a person diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus has a very high risk of developing cancer if it isn’t treated.

« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 09:47:40 AM by Tony »

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