Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Gastric cancer

Gastric cancer image

What is gastric cancer?

  • Gastric cancer is a cancer that starts in the stomach, an organ that is part of the digestive system1
  • It starts in the inner layer of the stomach and grows into the outer layers1

Types of gastric cancer

  • 90 to 95% of stomach cancers are of a type known as adenocarcinoma1,2
  • Some other cancers may develop in the stomach but are not referred to as gastric cancer; these include:1,2
    • Lymphomas
    • Gastrointestinal stromal tumours
    • Carcinoid tumours

Who gets gastric cancer?

  • Gastric cancer is almost twice as common in males as in females2,3
  • Most people with gastric cancer are aged over 55 years2,3
  • Smokers are twice as likely to develop gastric cancer as non-smokers2,3
  • A diet low in fibre and high in processed food or red meat may increase susceptibility to gastric cancer2
  • It is the 5th most common cancer worldwide4
  • 952,000 new cases were diagnosed worldwide in 20124

Screening, detection, and diagnosis

  • There are no screening programmes for gastric cancer in Europe, but there is a screening programme in Japan, where gastric cancer is very common5
  • The main tests used to diagnose gastric cancer are:
    • Endoscopy and endoscopic ultrasound, including taking a biopsy6
  • Other tests may include:
    • Laparoscopy6
    • CT and PET scans6

Patient guidelines

A patient guideline is a document containing information for patients and their families about their disease and the treatment options available to them

Click here to see the European patient guideline on your condition7

Local support groups

Contacting a support group may help you during diagnosis and treatment and afterwards


Click here for information on the incidence of gastric cancer in Europe8



  1. American Cancer Society. What is stomach cancer? Accessed November 2015.
  2. NHS Choices. Stomach cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  3. Cancer Research UK. Stomach cancer risks and causes. Accessed November 2015.
  4. World Cancer Research Fund International. Stomach cancer statistics. Accessed November 2015.
  5. Cancer Research UK. Stomach cancer screening. Accessed November 2015.
  6. NHS Choices. How stomach cancer is diagnosed. Accessed November 2015.
  7. European Society for Medical Oncology. Stomach cancer: a guide for patients. Accessed November 2015.
  8. World Health Organization. Gastric cancer - estimated incidence, mortality & prevalence in men, 2012. Accessed November 2015.