The stomach is a hollow, muscular organ between the end of the oesophagus and the beginning of the intestines. It sits in the upper left part of the abdomen.
The stomach’s role is to store food that has been swallowed, begin breaking down food, and pass the food into the intestines. Muscles in the stomach mash food. Gastric juices are released from glands in the mucosa, the innermost layer of the stomach. These juices turn the food into a thick fluid. The thick fluid passes into the intestines where digestion continues. Nutrients begin to be absorbed from the broken-down food, through the walls of the intestine, into the bloodstream.
The stomach also makes a chemical that is needed for the body to absorb vitamin B12. This vitamin is needed by the body to help in the making of red blood cells and to keep the nervous system healthy.
What is Cancer of Stomach?
Cancer develops when healthy cells in the stomach become abnormal and grow too quickly. The abnormal cells form a mass in the stomach called a tumor. When a tumor has the ability to spread to other parts of the body, it is called malignant (cancer).
The most common malignant tumors of the stomach, known as adenocarcinoma, develop in cells that line the innermost lining of stomach called the mucosa. Other types of stomach cancer are: lymphoma (cancer of lymphatic tissue), gastrointestinal stromal tumours (cancer of muscle or connective tissue) and carcinoid tumours (cancer of hormone-producing cells). Different patterns of tumor have different treatment.
There are lymph glands around the stomach. The lymph nodes are often the first place that cancer cells spread to when they break away from a tumour. So surgeons often remove them during cancer surgery and send them to the lab where a pathologist examines them to see if they contain any cancer cells.
The presence of cancer cells in the lymph nodes is part of the staging of the cancer. The stage is important because it helps the doctor to decide a suitable treatment for you.