Screening for cancer is examination (or testing) of people for early stages in the development of cancer even though they have no symptoms. Scientists have studied patterns of cancer in the population to learn which people are more likely to get certain types of cancer. They have also studied what things around us and what personal habits may cause cancer. This information sometimes helps doctors recommend who should be screened for certain types of cancer, what types of screening tests people should have, and how often these tests should be done. Not all screening tests are helpful, and most have risks such as tearing (perforation) of the lining of the stomach during gastroscopy. For this reason, scientists at the National Cancer Institute are studying many screening tests to find out how useful they are and to determine the relative benefits and harms.
If your doctor suggests certain cancer screening tests as part of your health care plan, this does not mean he or she thinks you have cancer. Screening tests are done when you have no symptoms. Since decisions about screening can be difficult, you may want to discuss them with your doctor and ask questions about the potential benefits and risks of screening tests and whether they have been proven to decrease the risk of dying from cancer.
If your doctor suspects that you may have cancer, he or she will order certain tests to see whether you do. These are called diagnostic tests. Some tests are used for diagnostic purposes, but are not suitable for screening people who have no symptoms.
The purposes of this summary on gastric cancer screening are to:
Give information on gastric cancer and what makes it more likely to occur (risk factors).
Give current facts about which people or groups of people would most likely be helped by screening.
You can talk to your doctor or health care professional about cancer screening and whether it would be likely to help you.
Gastric cancer may also be called stomach cancer. The major type of gastric cancer is adenocarcinoma, or cancer of the glandular tissue in the stomach. Other rarer forms of stomach cancer include lymphomas (cancer involving the lymphatic system) and sarcomas (cancer of the connective tissue, such as muscle, fat, or blood vessels).
Gastric cancer is the fourteenth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Although the incidence of stomach cancer in the United States has decreased since the 1930s, gastric cancer is a major cause of death worldwide, especially in developing countries.
Anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a disease is called a risk factor. Some of these risk factors for gastric cancer are as follows:
Pre-existing Conditions: If you already have one of the following conditions, you may have a higher-than-average risk of developing stomach cancer: chronic gastritis, intestinal metaplasia, pernicious anemia, gastric polyps, or Helicobacter pylori infection of the stomach.
Older Age: Two out of every three people diagnosed with gastric cancer are older than 66 years of age.
Family History: If you have a mother, father, brother, or sister who has had stomach cancer, you may have a higher-than-average risk of developing gastric cancer.
Diet and Lifestyle: If you smoke cigarettes and eat many salted, smoked, or poorly preserved foods but few fruits and vegetables, you may have a higher-than-average risk of developing gastric cancer.
Changes were made to this summary to match those made to the health professional version.
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For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Deaf and hard-of-hearing callers with TTY equipment may call 1-800-332-8615. The call is free and a trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
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PDQ is a comprehensive cancer database available on NCI's Web site.
PDQ is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. Most of the information contained in PDQ is available online at NCI's Web site. PDQ is provided as a service of the NCI. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health, the federal government's focal point for biomedical research.
PDQ contains cancer information summaries.
The PDQ database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries are available in two versions. The health professional versions provide detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions provide current and accurate cancer information.
The PDQ cancer information summaries are developed by cancer experts and reviewed regularly.
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PDQ also contains information on clinical trials.
A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether a method of finding cancer earlier can help people to live longer. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients and those who are at risk for cancer. During screening clinical trials, information is collected about screening methods, the risks involved, and how well they do or do not work. If a clinical trial shows that a new method is better than one currently being used, the new method may become "standard." People who are at high risk for a certain type of cancer may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
Listings of clinical trials are included in PDQ and are available online at NCI's Web site. Descriptions of the trials are available in health professional and patient versions. Many cancer doctors who take part in clinical trials are also listed in PDQ. For more information, call the Cancer Information Service 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237); TTY at 1-800-332-8615.