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Stomach cancer risk factors

When the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer are not apparent, the disease may reach advanced stages before a diagnosis is made. For this reason, it is important for anyone considered to be at high risk to talk to their doctors about symptoms that may be signs of stomach cancer.

cancer risks

Stomach cancer risk factors

GENERAL

  • Age: Stomach cancer is found most often in people over age 55.
  • Gender: The disease affects men twice as often as women.
  • Race: Stomach cancer is more common in African Americans than in Caucasians.
  • Region: This type of cancer is more common in some parts of the world, such as Japan, Korea, parts of Eastern Europe and Latin America. People in these areas eat many foods that are preserved by drying, smoking, salting or pickling.

BODY

  • Obesity: Obesity has been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer

GENETICS

Certain gene mutations and some inherited conditions are considered stomach cancer risk factors. They include:

  • BRCA1 & BRCA2: Inherited mutations on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are often associated with higher risks for breast cancer. Individuals who have inherited these genetic mutations are also at an increased risk for stomach cancer
  • E-cadherin/CDH1: Though rare, people who inherit this genetic mutation have a 70 to 80 percent chance of developing stomach cancer in their lifetime. Also, women with this genetic defect have an increased risk of breast cancer.
  • Lynch syndrome: This condition may also be referred to as hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), a genetic condition that runs in families. More commonly, this condition is associated with an increased risk for colon cancer. HNPCC also predisposes people to stomach cancers.
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): This syndrome causes polyps in the colon, stomach and intestines. Often caused by mutations of the gene APC, this syndrome greatly increases a person's risk of colorectal cancer and may play a small role in increasing a person's stomach cancer risk.

LIFESTYLE

  • Smoking: There is evidence linking cigarette smoking to many types of cancer, including stomach cancer. Smokers have been found to be at greater risk of developing cancer than non-smokers.
  • Diet: Scientists believe that eating foods preserved in these ways may play a role in the development of stomach cancer. On the other hand, fresh foods (especially fresh fruits and vegetables and properly frozen or refrigerated fresh foods) may protect against this disease.
  • Working in the coal, metal or rubber industries: Chemicals that are released in these environments have been linked to the development of stomach cancer.

OTHER CONDITIONS

  • H. pylori infection: Doctors have found that a long-term H. pylori infection may lead to inflammation and pre-cancerous changes to the stomach lining. In fact, stomach cancer patients typically have a higher incidence of H. pylori infections than people who do not have stomach cancer.
  • Pernicious anemia: Some people with pernicious anemia may have gastric polyps, which can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection: According to the American Cancer Society, Epstein-Barr virus is found in the cancer cells of about 5% to 10% of people with stomach cancer.

Understanding risk factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.

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