An Overview of Stomach (Gastric) Cancer
The stomach is a sac-like organ connected to the esophagus on one end and the small intestine on the other. The stomach’s main function is to store food and begin the digestive process. The stomach is not responsible for the absorption of nutrients—that process takes place in the intestines.
The stomach can be divided into five parts:
- cardia or proximal stomach: the upper portion of the stomach closest to the esophagus; cells here produce acid and pepsin, which are used in the digestive process
- Fundus: the section next to the cardia; cells here also produce acid and pepsin for digestion
- body: the main part of the stomach where food is stored
- Antrum: where the digestive enzymes and the food are mixed together
- Pylorus: the last part of the stomach that serves as a valve, controlling the amount of food and digestive enzymes that enter the small intestine.
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The stomach is composed of four layers:
- mucosa: the innermost layer where stomach acid and digestive juices are made
- submucosa: a supporting layer
- muscularis: a layer of muscle that mixes the food with the digestive enzymes and moves the food through the stomach
- subserosa: a wrapping layer of the stomach
- serosa: the outermost wrapping layer of the stomach.
Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, usually starts growing in the inner lining of the stomach. Cancer of the stomach usually takes years to develop, and early stages of the cancer usually show no symptoms. By the time symptoms become evident the prognosis is not good.
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