Health A-Z

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Harvard Medical School

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What Is It?

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that form the inner lining of the stomach. The disease often does not cause symptoms until its later stages. Usually, by the time stomach cancer is diagnosed, the prognosis is poor. Most people who are diagnosed with stomach cancer are over age 60. The disease rarely occurs before age 50.

Several factors increase the risk of stomach cancer:

  • a diet high in smoked, salted, or pickled foods

  • alcohol and tobacco use

  • a history of persistent stomach irritation or ulcers

  • previous stomach surgery

  • multiple family members that have had stomach cancer.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of stomach cancer.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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