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There are several types of stomach cancer, which are primarily determined based on where the tumor originates. The stomach is made up of five different layers – the mucosa, submucosa, muscularis propria, subserosa and serosa – and each layer has a specific function in the stomach’s ability to digest food. For example, the mucosa is the innermost layer of the stomach where acid and digestive enzymes are made, the muscularis propria is made of muscles that contract to help the stomach mash up food and the serosa is the outermost layer that helps hold the organ together.

What are the different types of stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer can originate in any of the stomach’s five layers, but the most common type of stomach cancer develops in the mucosa. This type of stomach cancer is called adenocarcinoma and is the most common, accounting for 90 to 95 percent of all stomach cancer. Several other types make up the remaining 5 to 10% of stomach cancers.

  • Adenocarcinoma – begins in the mucosa and then spreads outwards into the other four layers
  • Lymphoma – originates in the immune system tissues located in the wall of the stomach
  • Carcinoid tumors – develop in the hormone-creating cells of the stomach and typically do not spread
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – occurs in the skin-like cells that make up the stomach lining
  • Small cell carcinoma – a type of neuroendocrine tumor that often develops in conjunction with other tumor types, and is extremely rare
  • Leiomyosarcoma – starts in the smooth muscle cells of the stomach
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) – begins in interstitial cells of Cajal, which are cells in the wall of the stomach
  • Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) - a type of rare cancer, caused by a genetic condition, that grows in the stomach. Having HDGC increases the risk of getting other types of cancer, such as breast cancer. Moffitt's CDH1 Clinic coordinates multidisciplinary care between Genetics, Gastroenterology (both endoscopy and surgery) and the Breast department to provide surveillance and treatment in HDGC patients. 

At Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, our collaborative multispecialty team creates an individualized treatment plan for every patient that includes diagnosis, treatment and supportive care. Because Moffitt has been named a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, we provide patients with access to some of the most effective clinical trials and groundbreaking treatments available.

No referral is necessary to visit our stomach cancer team. Contact Moffitt Cancer Center to learn more about our services and support for the various types of stomach cancer by completing our online registration form or calling 1-888-663-3488.