What is the First Stage of Stomach Cancer?

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The first stage of stomach cancer starts when abnormal cells develop in the mucosa (innermost layer) of the stomach wall. These cells may become cancer and spread into nearby normal tissue.

Doctors can see a cancer in its early stages using a procedure called endoscopic mucosal resection. This involves passing a thin, lighted tube into your mouth and into your stomach. This can take samples of the tissue for lab tests.

Stage 0

At this stage, the cancer hasn’t spread beyond the surface of your stomach lining. This is called carcinoma in situ (CIS).

Your health care team uses this information to give your cancer a stage. The stage of your cancer is a number from 0 to 4. Your provider uses these numbers together to determine what your treatment options are.

Surgery, chemo and radiation are the main treatments for stage 0 cancers. These treatments can sometimes shrink the cancer so it is easier to remove or may make your symptoms better.

Other treatments for stage 0 stomach cancer include immunotherapy and palliative care. Immunotherapy helps your immune system attack cancer cells that are hard to see with other tests. Palliative care is specialized medical care that includes doctors, nurses and other specialists who can help with symptom relief and improve your quality of life.

Some small stage 0 cancers can be treated by endoscopic resection, which involves passing a thin tube down the throat and removing part of your stomach. It is not used as often in the United States, but it can be done at cancer centers that specialize in this type of treatment.

Your health care team might also use other tests to look for signs of your cancer spreading. For example, X-rays, CT scans, ultrasound and bone scans can show if the cancer has spread to your bones.

Chemotherapy is a common treatment for stage 2 and 3 stomach cancers. It may be given before or after surgery to help shrink the cancer and make it easier to remove.

Radiation therapy is also used to treat stage 2 and 3 stomach cancers. It is a high-energy X-ray that can damage cancer cells.

Stomach cancer is one of the most common gastrointestinal (GI) cancers. It affects men and women differently, depending on your ethnic background, lifestyle choices and other factors. It is one of the few cancers that has a good prognosis when it’s in the early stages.

Stage I

The first stage of stomach cancer is when abnormal cells have been found in the inner layer of the stomach (the mucosa). These unhealthy cells may be the cause of stomach pain, bloating and other symptoms.

Your doctor can identify these abnormal cells by performing a physical exam, blood test or imaging study. These tests help determine whether your cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

If it hasn’t spread to lymph nodes or other organs, your doctor calls it stage 0 and removes these cancerous cells with surgery. This is the best way to prevent cancer from developing in the future.

But if it does spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs, your treatment plan depends on the stage of your disease. Generally, stage 3 or 4 gastric cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes and other organs in your abdominal area.

Stage 4 gastric cancer has metastasized (spread) to other areas of the body, including the lungs, liver or brain. This is the most serious form of stomach cancer and usually has a poorer prognosis than stage 1 or 2.

There are several ways to treat this stage. For example, laser therapy can be used to destroy tumors or stop bleeding and a hollow tube called a stent can help keep food moving through your stomach.

Your doctor may also use chemotherapy or radiation to kill the cancerous cells. These medicines work by killing the cancer cells and leaving healthy cells intact.

But sometimes, surgery is needed to remove part of your stomach or a section of the esophagus or small intestine. This is called a subtotal gastrectomy.

Stomach cancer is a very serious disease that can kill you quickly, especially when it spreads to other organs in your abdomen. It can also recur after your treatment. This is why it’s so important to get a complete picture of your disease.