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What are the stages of stomach cancer?

If the pathologist finds cancer cells in the tissue sample, the patient's doctor needs to know the stage, or extent, of the disease. Staging exams and tests help the doctor find out whether the cancer has spread and, if so, what parts of the body are affected. Because stomach cancer can spread to the liver, the pancreas, and other organs near the stomach as well as

to the lungs, the doctor may order a CT (or CAT) scan, an ultrasound exam, or other tests to check these areas.

Staging of stomach cancer is based on how deep the growth has penetrated the stomach lining; to what extent (if any) it has invaded surrounding lymph nodes; and to what extent (if any) it has spread to distant parts of the body (metastasized). The more confined the cancer, the better the chance for a cure. Staging may not be complete until after surgery. The surgeon removes nearby lymph nodes and may take samples of tissue from other areas in the abdomen. All of these samples are examined by a pathologist to check for cancer cells. Decisions about treatment after surgery depend on these findings.

For stomach cancer, the following stages are used:

Stage 0: This stage is very early cancer. At this stage, cancer is found only in the innermost layer of the stomach wall.

Stage I: Stage I is slightly more advanced. There are two possible criteria of this stage: Cancer is found in the second or third layers of the stomach and has not spread to the lymph nodes near the location of the cancer, or cancer is in the second layer of the stomach and has spread to lymph nodes very close to the tumor.

Stage II: Stage II is slightly more advanced than Stage I. In this stage, three conditions may be found: Cancer is in the second layer of the stomach wall and has spread to lymph nodes further away from the tumor, or cancer is only in the muscle layer (the third layer) of the stomach and has spread to lymph nodes very close to the tumor, or cancer is in all four layers of the stomach wall but has not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Stage III: Stage III is slightly more advanced than Stage II. In this stage, any of the following may be found: Cancer is in the third layer of the stomach wall and has spread to lymph nodes further away from the tumor, or cancer is in all four layers of the stomach wall and has spread to lymph nodes either very close to the tumor or further away from the tumor. Cancer is found in all four layers of the stomach wall and has spread to nearby tissues. The cancer may or may not have spread to lymph nodes very close to the tumor.

Stage IV: In Stage IV stomach cancer, the cancer has spread to nearby tissues and to lymph nodes further away from the tumor, or it has spread to other parts of the body (metastasis).

Recurrent: Recurrent disease means that the cancer has returned after treatment. It may come back in the stomach, or in another part of the body such as the pancreas, lung, or lymph nodes.

More information on stomach cancer

What is stomach cancer? - Stomach cancer (gastric cancer) is a disease in which normal cells in the stomach tissues become cancerous and grow out of control.
What causes stomach cancer? - Stomach cancer arises from changes in the internal lining of the stomach. Stomach cancer is more common in smokers and in those with heavy alcohol intake.
What're the risk factors for stomach cancer? - Risk factors for stomach cancer include eating foods high in starch and low in fiber, smoking, drinking alcohol, and vitamin A deficiency.
What're the symptoms of stomach cancer? - Symptoms of stomach cancer include weight loss, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal bleeding, nausea and vomiting.
How is stomach cancer diagnosed? - A complete medical history will be taken to check for any risk factors. A thorough physical examination will be conducted to assess all the symptoms.
What're the stages of stomach cancer? - Staging of stomach cancer is based on how deep the growth has penetrated the stomach lining. Staging may not be complete until after surgery.
What's the treatment for stomach cancer? - Standard treatment available for stomach cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
How to prevent stomach cancer? - By avoiding many of the risk factors associated with the disease, it is possible to prevent many stomach cancers.
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