Gastric cancer, or stomach cancer, is the unregulated growth of cells that begins in the stomach. Cancer cells usually originate within any of the cells in the inner lining of the stomach and then grow deeper into the stomach walls as cancer develops. When stomach tumors are found early enough, they can be treated to stop them from further growing into the stomach walls or spreading to surrounding organs like the liver or pancreas or even further away sections of the body.
Types of Stomach Cancer
The most prevalent type of stomach cancer, gastric adenocarcinoma, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases. Gastric lymphoma, gastric carcinoid tumors, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors are less common variations of stomach cancer.
What Is Stomach Cancer Screening?
Stomach cancer screening1 means testing people for early stomach cancer symptoms. It is the process of testing for stomach cancer in someone without symptoms. For those with greater risk factors for stomach cancer, screening is advised to aid in the early detection of the disease. Upper endoscopy is often used during screening. It is easier to treat when stomach cancer is discovered in its earlier stages.
Stomach Cancer Staging
Stomach cancer staging describes the extent of the disease’s spread and whether it has affected other body organs. Various tests and examinations are carried out to detect if a patient has stomach cancer and if they exhibit some of the warning signs and symptoms of the disease. Doctors use diagnostic tests to find out the stage of cancer.
Tests used to Diagnose Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer is usually diagnosed when a person goes to the doctor because of signs or symptoms they are experiencing. Numerous methods and tests can be done to diagnose and find stomach cancer if it is suspected.
Stomach cancer diagnosis relies on endoscopy to visualize the stomach and take biopsies. Patients are typically diagnosed during an upper endoscopy.2 An endoscope, a thin, flexible, lighted tube with a small video camera on the end, is put down the patient’s throat. The endoscope allows the doctor to look inside the stomach and see the inner lining of a patient’s stomach.
If stomach cancer symptoms are present, specialized tools are inserted into the endoscope tube to get a tissue sample. The biopsy or tissue samples are then taken out for analysis and forwarded to a pathologist. A pathologist then examines the biopsy samples to determine whether they contain cancer.
Endoscopic ultrasound may determine the depth of the tumor in the stomach wall if your doctor suspects that the cancer may be deeper in the stomach wall. The physician will administer sedation to the patient before inserting the ultrasound probe into the stomach wall. An ultrasound probe’s images make it simpler for a clinician to examine the layers of the stomach wall and collect a biopsy sample. The diagnosis of stomach cancer is then made using the biopsy samples.
Other diagnostic modalities for stomach cancer include:
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan
- Blood tests
- Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series
Gastric Cancer TNM Staging
The most used staging method for figuring out the stage of stomach cancer is TNM staging. Medical professionals use the outcomes of diagnostic exams and scans to estimate the size of the tumor, the number of lymph nodes implicated, and the extent to which the cancer has spread (metastasized.) The doctor can suggest the best course of treatment when they are aware of the stage.
The primary tumor and its local invasion are shown through tumor staging. T staging uses a letter or number to indicate the extent of the original tumor’s invasion into the stomach lining.
TX – It’s not possible to assess the primary tumor.
T0 – There is no sign that a primary tumor is present.
Tis – The Carcinoma is in situ.
T1 – The tumor has grown into the inner wall of the stomach.
T1a – The tumor has invaded the mucosa.
T1b – The tumor has invaded the submucosa.
T2 – The tumor has grown into the muscle layer of the stomach.
T3 – The tumor has grown into the outer lining of the stomach.
T4 – The tumor has grown through the outer lining of the stomach and has invaded nearby structures.
T4a – The tumor has grown through the outer lining of the stomach.
T4b – The tumor has invaded adjacent organs, such as the liver.
Lymph node staging reveals the degree of regional lymph node involvement.
NX – It’s not possible to assess the lymph nodes.
N0 – There are no cancer cells in any nearby lymph nodes.
N1 – There are cancer cells in 1-2 nearby lymph nodes.
N2 – There are cancer cells in 3-6 nearby lymph nodes.
N3 – There are cancer cells in 7 or more nearby lymph nodes.
N3a – There are cancer cells in 7 to 15 nearby lymph nodes.
N3b – Cancer cells exist in 16 or more nearby lymph nodes.
Metastasis staging reveals the presence of distant metastases.M0 – No distant metastases exist, indicating that the stomach cancer has not metastasized to other bodily regions.
Classification of Stomach Cancer Stages
Stomach cancer stages are ranked from 0 to IV.3 The stage is determined by things like:
- The layers of the stomach that have been invaded.
- Whether lymph nodes are involved.
- Whether other organs have been affected.
TNM abbreviations (discussed above) are included to give an accurate review.
1. Stage 0 Stomach Cancer
Abnormal cells can be identified on the surface of the epithelium, but the cancer cells have not grown into any other layers of the stomach. Doctors call it carcinoma in situ. Stage 0 is early cancer (Tis, N0, M0).
2. Stage I Stomach Cancer
- Stage I A
Stomach cancer has grown beneath the top layer of cells into the inner layer of the stomach wall (mucosa). But no lymph nodes have been affected by the spread of stomach cancer (T1, N0, M0).
- Stage I B
For cancer to be classified as stage I B stomach cancer, the following conditions have to be met:
- The stomach cancer has spread to one or two lymph nodes (T1, N1, M0).
- The stomach cancer has advanced into the stomach’s primary muscular layer but has not yet metastasized to neighboring lymph nodes, tissues, or organs (T2, N0, M0).
3. Stage II Stomach Cancer
- Stage II A
Stomach cancer is said to be in stage II A if any of these conditions are met:
- The stomach cancer has expanded to three to six lymph nodes close to the stomach but has not yet reached the main muscle layer (T1, N2, M0).
- The stomach cancer has grown into the outer muscular layers of the stomach wall. However, it has not migrated to distant areas despite reaching one or two lymph nodes (T2, N1, M0).
- The stomach cancer has not progressed to the peritoneal lining or any lymph nodes outside the stomach, but it has grown through the primary layer of the muscle into the connective tissue (T3, N0, M0).
- Stage II B
Stage II B occurs when one of the following conditions are met:
- The stomach cancer has grown into the inner layer of the stomach walls but not the primary muscle layer. It has spread to seven or more lymph nodes near the stomach (T1, N3a, M0).
- Stomach cancer has invaded the outer muscular layers of the stomach wall. The cancer has spread to between three and six lymph nodes near the stomach, but no other tissues or organs have been affected (T2, N2, M0).
- Stomach cancer has grown through all the layers of the muscle into the connective tissue outside the stomach. The cancer has not grown through all the layers outside the stomach. One to two lymph nodes have been affected, but no tissues or organs outside the stomach have been affected (T3, N1, M0).
- Stomach cancer has spread through every layer of the stomach wall and into the stomach’s outer layer. The peritoneal lining has been invaded by cancer, but no local lymph nodes or distant sites have been affected (T4a, N0, M0).
4. Stage III Stomach Cancer
- Stage III A
The following conditions characterize stage III stomach cancer:
- The stomach cancer has advanced into the stomach’s primary muscular layer and has spread to seven or more lymph nodes, but it has not yet affected other tissues or organs (T2, N3a, M0).
- The stomach cancer has spread through all muscle layers and into the connective tissue outside the stomach, but not entirely through all the layers. The cancer has not progressed to other organs but has spread to three to six surrounding lymph nodes (T3, N2, M0).
- The stomach cancer has grown into the connective tissue outside the stomach after growing through all the layers of the stomach wall. The cancer has not yet progressed to other organs but has expanded to one or two neighboring lymph nodes (T4a, N1, M0).
- Stomach cancer has progressed through every muscle layer and into neighboring organs or structures through connective tissue outside the stomach. The cancer has not spread to any lymph nodes (T4b, N0, M0).
- Stage III B
If any of the following criteria are met, stomach cancer is said to be in stage III B:
- Stomach cancer has spread into the outer muscular layers of the stomach wall. The cancer has not yet spread to distant places but has at least 16 lymph nodes (T1 or T2, N3b, M0).
- Stomach cancer has grown through all the layers of the muscle into the connective tissue outside the stomach. The cancer has progressed to seven to fifteen lymph nodes but has also affected other organs (T3, N3a, M0).
- Stomach cancer has grown through all the layers of the muscle into the connective tissue outside the stomach and the peritoneal lining. Between 7 and 15 lymph nodes have been affected by cancer, but no organs nearby have been affected (T4a, N3a, M0).
- Stomach cancer has penetrated the connective tissue surrounding the stomach and its neighboring organs across all the layers of the stomach wall. It might or might not have spread to far-off places (T4b, N1 or N2, M0).
- Stage III C
The following conditions characterize Stage III C stomach cancer:
- The stomach cancer has not spread to distant body parts despite growing through all layers of the stomach wall and into the connective tissue outside the stomach (T3 or T4a, N3b, M0).
- The stomach cancer has spread into the adjacent organs and through the stomach wall. The cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but not distant sites (T4b, N3a or N3b, M0).
5. Stage IV Gastric Cancer
The most advanced cancer stage is stage IV. The cancer has metastasized, or spread, beyond the stomach into other body areas (any T, any N, M1).
Gastric Cancer Treatment Plans
Based on the stage, every patient has a gastric cancer treatment4 option. Conventional stomach cancer treatment options include:
- Radiation therapy
- Endoscopic resection
- Total gastrectomy
Alternative Stomach Cancer Treatment Options at Immunity Therapy Center
We provide a variety of alternative treatments and natural pain relief for stomach cancer at the Immunity Therapy Center. Based on the stage of your disease and general health, our committed staff will create a specific treatment plan for stomach cancer.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with stomach cancer and is interested in learning more about our natural, less-aggressive, patient-focused alternative cancer treatment choices, get in touch with us today. To learn more about our non-traditional treatment alternatives in Mexico, schedule an appointment with us.
Written By: Dr. David Alvarez
Dr. David Alvarez is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Xochicalco and Certified by the American Heart Association (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support).
Dr. Alvarez has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista as an Assistant Medical Director at the Immunity Therapy Center for over 6 years. He provides daily on site patient care and participates on the medical board on research and development of patient treatment plans and programs. Dr. Alvarez is a knowledgeable and compassionate Doctor committed to helping patients get to where they want to be health wise through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.