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Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 08/2023

About the stomach

The stomach is located in the upper abdomen. When food is swallowed, it travels through the esophagus to the stomach. The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the throat with the stomach. Once food enters the stomach, it is mixed and gastric juices help break down and digest the food. The food then moves into the small intestine to be digested more.

Types of stomach cancer

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, begins when healthy cells in the stomach become abnormal and grow out of control, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A cancerous tumor is malignant, meaning it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor means the tumor can grow but will not spread.

Cancer can begin in any part of the stomach. It can also spread to nearby lymph nodes and other parts of the body, such as the liver, bones, lungs, and the ovaries.

Most stomach cancers are a type called adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is a broad term describing any cancer that begins in the glands or glandular tissue that lines some organs, including the stomach. Other types of cancerous tumors that form in the stomach include lymphomagastric sarcoma, and neuroendocrine tumors, but these are rare.