​Making Strides Against Gastric Cancer

November is Gastric Cancer Awareness Month.

Stomach or gastric cancer is a disease in which cancer cells form in the lining of the stomach. The wall of the stomach is made up of three layers of tissue: the mucosal layer, the muscularis layer, and the serosal layer. Stomach cancer begins in the cells lining the mucosal layer and spreads through the outer layers as it grows.

Most stomach cancers – about 90 percent – are adenocarcinomas, cancers that form in mucus-secreting glands. About 5 percent of them are lymphomas, cancers that form in the immune system. Additionally, some stomach tumors are of the carcinoid type, a slow-growing type of neuroendocrine cancers.

Stromal tumors of the stomach begin in supporting connective tissue and are treated differently from gastric cancer.

An estimated 26,240 new cases of stomach cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 10,800 people are expected to die from the disease in 2018, according to the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Men are more commonly diagnosed with stomach cancer than women. Moreover, stomach cancer is less frequent among non-Hispanic whites than people of other races and ethnicities. Risk factors include smoking, age, diet, and long-term stomach inflammation, such as infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria, according to the NCI.

What Is the AACR Doing in This Area?

Since 2014, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and Debbie's Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer have together offered research grants in the field of gastric cancer. The Debbie's Dream Foundation-AACR Gastric Cancer Fellowship and the Debbie's Dream Foundation-AACR Career Development Award for Gastric Cancer Research represent a joint effort to encourage and support postdoctoral or clinical research fellows to conduct gastric cancer research.

The 2018 grants were awarded to: Richard Gordon Hodge, PhD, of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Valerie Phoebe O’Brien, PhD, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Ashleigh Poh, PhD, of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute; and Spencer Gaffney Willet, PhD, of Washington University in St. Louis.

The AACR formed a similar partnership in 2018 with No Stomach for Cancer to encourage and support postdoctoral or clinical research fellows to conduct gastric cancer research and to establish a successful career path in this field. The inaugural award went to Julian Burks, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Georgetown University.

Additionally, the AACR awarded an AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award to Jean F. Ruiz Calderon, PhD, of UPR-Medical Science Campus, for her lung cancer study.

The AACR's mission is to prevent and cure all forms of cancer.

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is a 501c3 registered nonprofit organization with offices at 615 Chestnut Street, 17th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19106 | 215.440.9300