after major surgery. While most stomach problems are minor ones, such as a mild virus or indigestion, occasionally serious disease strikes the stomach.What is Stomach Cancer?The stomach is composed of various "cells", which are intricately combined together into"tissues" which form the "organ" . These cells divide to produce new ones, and grow veryrapidly during womb life, early childhood and puberty. In adulthood, new cells are producedonly to replace those that die of old age, injury or disease. Normally, division of cells isunder very tight control. This control is exerted by the "genes" inside each cell, which arehoused in long clumps forming "chromosomes", which are visible under a light microscope.The genes themselves are made up of DNA, the master genetic code material. If the genesare damaged, say by chemicals or radiation, the control over cell division may be lost in one particular cell. Ultimately, cancer is considered a disease of the DNA. Stomach cancer startsin a single lung cell . That cell starts dividing haphazardly, making millions and billions of copies of itself. It takes up the nourishment needed by other cells, depriving them so thecancer can continue to grow. Quickly growing cells can clump up to form a "tumor".A tumor simply means a swelling, it can be caused by inflammation or infection. A "benign"tumor only grows in it's local area (although it may get quite large)-- it cannot spread and isnot cancer. By contrast, a tumor which can spread to other body areas is called "malignant"and this is cancer . The process of cancer spread to other areas is called "metastasis", so onlymalignant tumors (i.e. cancer) can metastasize. Theoretically, cancer can spread to any areaof the body, and it often grows better in it's area of spread than in it's area of origin ("primarysite"). It is this capacity for spread that makes cancer so dangerous. If not treatedsuccessfully, it ultimately kills by debility, anemia, infection, and compromise of normal body functions.How Common is Stomach Cancer?Stomach cancer is the most common cancer in the world (after skin cancer). In the U.S.A. itis much less common, with25,000 new cases per year causing14,000 deaths. This means it isabout 3% of new cancers in the U.S.A. each year. Stomach cancer hasdecreased 5-fold in theU.S.A. over the past 50 years. It is more common in males, extremely rare in children, andthe average patient is 55 years old.What Causes, or Increases the Risk for Stomach Cancer?As for any cancer, the exact reason why one person gets stomach cancer and another doesnot remains unknown . However, several things have been noted, when looking at groups of patients, that increase cancer risk. These "risk factors" are:1. Lack of Refrigeration is seen in countries with a high level of stomach cancer, as used to be the situation in the U.S.A. prior to 1940 (when cases were very high). Preservatives likenitrates, which were commonly used before refrigerators, may be contributory.2. Increased Smoked and Salted Food intake appears related to stomach cancer, and may be related to lack of refrigeration in third-world countries today.3. Low Fruits and Vegetables in the diet, and high fat, is related to many "aerodigestive"