Stomach Cancer Rare

The most common type of stomach cancer is a tumor called an “adenocarcinoma,” which develops in the innermost lining (mucosa) of the stomach. Approximately 90 to 95 percent of gastric cancers are adenocarcinomas, according to the American Cancer Society (2010).

The rare stomach cancers that account for the remaining 5 to 10 percent of cases include lymphomas, gastrointestinal stromal tumors and carcinoid tumors. In order to choose the best treatment, you need to know what type of tumor you have.

Lymphoma

Lymphomas are cancers of the tissue of the immune system, and they can sometimes occur in the wall of the stomach. About 4 percent of stomach cancers are lymphomas, according to the American Cancer Society (2010).

Many types of lymphoma exist, with the two most common being Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Prognosis and treatment of stomach lymphomas depends on the type.

Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) start in cells called the “interstitial cells of Cajal,” located in the wall of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Although these tumors can occur anywhere in the digestive tract, about 60 to 70 percent develop in the stomach, as reported by the American Cancer Society (2010).

Some GISTs are cancerous, while others are benign. GISTs may not cause symptoms unless they are in certain locations or grow to be quite large. Surgery is usually the treatment for GISTs, although chemotherapy and radiation may also be used for cancerous tumors.

Carcinoid Tumors

Neuroendocrine cells are a cross between nerve cells and hormone-making endocrine cells, and are scattered throughout the organs of the body, including the stomach. Carcinoid tumors of the stomach start in these cells. About 3 percent of stomach cancers are carcinoid tumors, according to the American Cancer Society (2010).

Carcinoid tumors usually grow and spread slowly, and are often found by accident, because they usually don’t cause symptoms. In about 10 percent of people with carcinoid tumors, the tumor spreads, grows and releases high amounts of hormones, causing carcinoid syndrome. Symptoms of carcinoid syndrome include flushing, wheezing, diarrhea and a fast heartbeat.

The treatment for carcinoids is usually surgery, although chemotherapy and radiation may also be used.

Resources

American Cancer Society. (2010). Stomach cancer. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/StomachCancer/DetailedGuide/stomach-cancer-what-is-stomach-cancer

Khan, A. N., MacDonald, S., Sherlock, D. (2008). Carcinoid, gastrointestinal. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/364581-overview

Nguyen, V. H., Taylor, A. (2008). Gastrointestinal stromal tumors – Leiomyoma/leiomyosarcoma. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/369803-overview

University of California, San Diego Moores Cancer Center. (n.d.). Gastrointestinal stromal tumors. Retrieved February 21, 2011, from http://health.ucsd.edu/cancer/patcare/gastro/stromal/