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Researchers are continually trying to determine what causes stomach cancer. While several risk factors have been identified, what remains unclear is what exactly causes cells in the stomach lining to begin dividing and growing rapidly. Research has indicated a strong correlation between eating foods that have been preserved by smoking, pickling or salting and developing stomach cancer. As the use of refrigeration and other preserving methods has increased around the world, the incidence of stomach cancer has declined.

While precise causes have yet to be identified, several changes that occur in the stomach lining could indicate a pre-cancerous condition. These changes include:

  • Atrophic gastritis – Normal glands in the stomach are either diminished or are absent. This condition can sometimes be caused by H. pylori infection, or by an autoimmune condition in which a person’s immune system begins to attack cells in the stomach lining.
  • Intestinal metaplasia – The normal cells that line the stomach are replaced by cells that usually line the intestine. Researchers think this condition may also be connected to H. pylori infection, but remain unclear regarding the impetus behind the change.
  • DNA changes – Some genes trigger cell division and growth, while others trigger cells to die at the right time to keep the number of cells in balance. Tumors sometimes form when one or the other of these genes malfunctions.

Moffitt Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that is on the leading edge of stomach cancer research, and we have a robust clinical trial program that is continually uncovering new ways to understand and treat the condition. Our extensive studies aim to develop effective methods of prevention, diagnosis and treatment that will one day make stomach cancer a thing of the past.

If you have questions about what causes stomach cancer, or want to learn more about our treatment options and clinical trials, call 1-888-663-3488 or fill out our convenient online patient registration form. You never need a referral to consult with our oncologists specializing in stomach cancer.