A Snapshot of Stomach Cancer
Incidence and Mortality
Stomach (gastric) cancer is relatively rare as the 16th most common cancer in the United States. The overall incidence and mortality of stomach cancer in the United States have both declined in the past 35 years. Incidence rates for stomach cancer fell on average 1.5% each year over the last 10 years. Mortality rates have fallen on average 3.0% each year since 2002. In 2014, it is estimated that over 22,000 Americans will be diagnosed with stomach cancer and nearly 11,000 will die of the disease.
The incidence and mortality rates of stomach cancer vary by race/ethnicity and by sex. Incidence rates are much lower among whites than among other racial/ethnic groups in the United States. Incidence rates are highest in American Indians/Alaska Natives, followed by African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians/Pacific Islanders. African Americans and Asians/Pacific Islanders have the highest stomach cancer mortality rates, followed by Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and whites. Men have much higher stomach cancer incidence and mortality rates than women.
Risk factors for stomach cancer include Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection of the stomach, smoking, family history of stomach cancer, a diet high in salted or in smoked foods, and a diet low in fruits and vegetables. There is no standard or routine screening test for stomach cancer. Standard treatments for stomach cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, chemoradiation and targeted therapy.
Assuming that incidence and survival rates follow recent trends, it is estimated that $1.8 billion1 will be spent on stomach cancer care in the United States in 2014.
NCI’s Investment in Stomach Cancer Research
To learn more about the research NCI conducts and supports in stomach cancer, visit the NCI Funded Research Portfolio (NFRP). The NFRP includes information about research grants, contract awards, and intramural research projects funded by NCI. When exploring this information, it should be noted that approximately half of the NCI budget supports basic research that may not be specific to one type of cancer. By its nature, basic research cuts across many disease areas, contributing to our knowledge of the underlying biology of cancer and enabling the research community to make advances against many cancer types. For these reasons, the funding levels reported in NFRP may not definitively report all research relevant to a given category.
Other NCI programs and activities relevant to stomach cancer include:
- NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics conducts population and multidisciplinary research to discover the genetic and environmental causes of cancer, including studies addressing stomach cancer.
- Researchers with The Cancer Genome Atlas (TGCA) program are systematically identifying the major genomic changes involved in more than 20 cancers, including stomach cancer, using state-of-the-art genomic technologies.
- The Tumor Microenvironment Network (TMEN) is exploring the role of the microenvironment in tumor initiation and progression. One TMEN center is studying myofibroblasts and cancer-associated fibroblasts in digestive cancers, including stomach cancers.
- NCI is sponsoring a collaborative funding opportunity, Role of the Microflora in the Etiology of Gastro-Intestinal Cancer, to understand how microbes that normally reside in the gastrointestinal tract interact with host cells to prevent or promote carcinogenesis in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Five gastrointestinal cancer-specific Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPOREs) are focusing on translational research on cancers of the gastrointestinal system.
Selected Advances in Stomach Cancer Research
- An analysis of genomic variation among two ancestrally distinct groups of patients who received endoscopy for indigestion and the H. pylori strains with which the patients were infected, revealed a reduced risk of gastric cancer when the pathogens had co-evolved with the host. Knowledge of host and pathogen ancestries may be useful for informing prevention efforts to eradicate H. pylori in those at greatest risk of gastric cancer. Published January 2014. [PubMed Abstract]
- Molecular and immunohistochemical analyses of gastric tissue samples from H. pylori-infected mice and from patients with a range of gastric disease stages identified a small number of proteins that act as key mediators of disease progression. Published February 2014. [PubMed Abstract]
- In human gastric cells and in a mouse model of gastric cancer, overexpression of the transcription factor SOX11 suppressed gastric cancer cell migration and invasion. Higher SOX11 expression in human gastric cancer samples was associated with fewer malignant features and was an independent prognostic factor for improved survival in gastric cancer patients. Published March 2014. [PubMed Abstract]
- A comprehensive analysis of 295 primary gastric adenocarcinomas identified four distinct subtypes, providing the basis for patient stratification and trials of targeted therapies. Published July 2014. [PubMed Abstract]
Additional Resources for Stomach Cancer
- NCI Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Home Page
Information about stomach (gastric) cancer treatment, prevention, causes, screening, clinical trials, research and statistics from the National Cancer Institute.
- Helicobacter pylori and Cancer
A fact sheet about the relationship between H. pylori infection and gastric cancer, gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma, and other cancers.
- Gastric Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)
Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of stomach cancer.
- Clinical Trials for Stomach Cancer
- 1 Cancer Prevalence and Cost of Care Projections, in 2010 dollars.