Tag Archive for: stomach cancer
Are gastric cancer and stomach cancer one and the same? Expert Dr. Matthew Strickland defines gastric cancer and provides an overview of subtypes.
Dr. Matthew Strickland is a medical oncologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Learn more about Dr. Strickland.
I’d like to start with a basic definition. What is gastric cancer? Is it the same as stomach cancer?
Dr. Matthew Strickland:
So, I think that’s a great question. I think for most of us from the patient perspective, just the word “cancer” is very scary. It can instantly stimulate a variety of emotions that all hit at once. So, I’d be happy to try to break that down. At the fundamental level, a cancer cell is a cell that originated as a healthy, normal cell in the body. Then, due to acquired genetic mutations or other aberrations have decided to stop playing by the rules and start growing out of control.
So, if this happens in the stomach, which, of course, is an anatomic location, that could be considered a stomach cancer. But beyond that, there can be different subtypes. I would say the most common type is what we call adenocarcinoma.
This is the aggressive kind. This is what I see most of the time and treat. But there are other types of tumors that could originate in the stomach such as a neuroendocrine tumor or perhaps even a lymphoma. Sometimes, we see tumors that are called gastrointestinal stromal tumors. So, I just want to make the point that there are a variety of different cancers that can originate in the stomach. But most of the time, folks are thinking of adenocarcinoma.
Then, to also answer your question specifically, gastric cancer and stomach, they’re probably interchangeable terms. But, of course, it’s important to determine the subtype.