Doctors cannot always explain why one person gets cancer and another does not. However, scientists have studied general patterns of cancer in the population to learn what things around us and what things we do in our lives may increase our chance of developing cancer.
Anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a disease is called a risk factor; anything that decreases a person’s chance of developing a disease is called a protective factor. Some of the risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. For example, although you can choose to quit smoking, you cannot choose which genes you have inherited from your parents. Both smoking and inheriting specific genes could be considered risk factors for certain kinds of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Prevention means avoiding the risk factors and increasing the protective factors that can be controlled so that the chance of developing cancer decreases.
Although many risk factors can be avoided, it is important to keep in mind that avoiding risk factors does not guarantee that you will not get cancer. Also, most people with a particular risk factor for cancer do not actually get the disease. Some people are more sensitive than others are to factors that can cause cancer. Talk to your doctor about methods of preventing cancer that might be effective for you.
The purposes of this summary on stomach cancer prevention are to:
Give information on stomach cancer and how often it occurs.
Describe stomach cancer prevention methods.
Give current facts about which people or groups of people would most likely be helped by following stomach cancer prevention methods.
You can talk to your doctor or health care professional about cancer prevention methods and whether these methods would be likely to help you.
Stomach cancer is also called gastric cancer. The most common type of stomach cancer is gastric 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).
Over most of the century, the frequency of stomach cancer has been decreasing. Over the past several years, the number of new cases of stomach cancer in the United States seems to be steady, while the number of deaths has greatly decreased.
Stomach cancer can sometimes be associated with known risk factors for the disease. Many risk factors are modifiable though not all can be avoided.
Diet and Lifestyle: Excessive salt intake has been identified as a possible risk factor for stomach cancer. Having a high intake of fresh fruits and vegetables may be associated with a decreased risk of stomach cancer. Studies have suggested that eating foods that contain beta-carotene and vitamin C may decrease the risk of stomach cancer, especially if intake of micronutrients is inadequate.
Helicobacter pylori Infection: There is strong evidence that infection with a certain bacteria, Helicobacter pylori, is associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer. However, it is not known if treating Helicobacter pylori infection with antibiotics decreases the risk of stomach cancer.
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. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
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This summary was renamed from Gastric Cancer Prevention.
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