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Stomach Cancer Prevention and Screening

Stomach Cancer Screening

Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you’re at risk but don’t have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are highest. Unfortunately, no standardized screening tests have been shown to improve stomach cancer outcomes. However, here at MD Anderson, we’re working to develop screening tests for those at risk.

If you are at high risk for stomach cancer, talk to your doctor about tests to find out if you have stomach cancer.

Stomach Cancer Risk Factors

Although the exact cause of stomach cancer is not known, certain factors seem to increase your risk of developing the disease. These include:

  • Eating foods preserved through pickling, salting and drying or that contain nitrates
  • Eating foods that have not been stored or prepared correctly
  • Obesity: Men who are obese have a higher risk of cancer in the part of the stomach nearest the esophagus
  • Infection with Helicobacter pylori: This type of bacteria, or germ, is a common cause of ulcers and may cause chronic inflammation in the stomach lining. This sometimes develops into pre-cancerous changes and cancer
  • Tobacco and alcohol abuse: Smoking and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol appear to increase the likelihood of cancer in the upper part of the stomach. Some studies have shown that smoking doubles the risk of stomach cancer.
  • Family history: If close relatives have any of the following conditions, you may be at a higher risk of stomach cancer:
    • Stomach cancer
    • Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
    • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Having any of the following medical conditions: 
    • Pernicious anemia
    • Chronic stomach inflammation and intestinal polyps
    • Menetrier disease
    • Epstein-Barr virus
    • Acid reflux or chronic indigestion
    • Stomach lymphoma
    • Type A blood
    • Prior stomach surgery
  • Gender: The majority of stomach cancer patients are male
  • Age: Most individuals who develop stomach cancer are older than 55
  • Ethnicity: In the United States, stomach cancer occurs more often in Hispanic Americans and African Americans than in non-Hispanic whites. It is found most in Asian/Pacific Islanders
  • Working in the rubber, metal, coal and timber industries, as well as those who have been exposed to asbestos fibers, have a higher risk for stomach cancer
  • Geography: More people in Japan, China, Southern and Eastern Europe, and Central and South America develop stomach cancer than those in Northern and Western Africa, South Central Asia and North America

Not everyone with risk factors gets stomach cancer. However, if you have risk factors, you should discuss them with your doctor.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • Most-advanced stomach cancer treatment options, including minimally invasive surgery, targeted therapies, gene therapy and laser therapy
  • Highly skilled and experienced surgeons
  • Advanced procedures that preserve as much stomach as possible
  • Latest diagnostic equipment and techniques, including endoscopic ultrasound
  • Clinical trials of new treatments for stomach cancer

Stomach Cancer Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Stomach cancer is treated in our:

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Stomach Cancer Prevention

Making healthy lifestyle choices may help prevent stomach cancer. These include:

  • Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and little red meat or processed meats
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding tobacco and limit alcohol. Read more about MD Anderson’s smoking cessation clinical trials.

Research shows that many cancers can be prevented. Visit the Prevention section of our website to find out steps you can take to avoid cancer.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center