What are stomach and oesophageal cancers?
Stomach and oesophageal cancers are malignant tumours found in the tissues of the stomach or oesophagus. They can develop in any part of the stomach or oesophagus. There are different types of both cancers.
Stomach and oesophageal cancers are usually slow growing. They may grow for many years before any symptoms are felt, so they may not be diagnosed until the cancer is advanced.
Stomach cancer symptoms
Symptoms of stomach cancer may include:
- a painful or burning sensation in the abdomen
- indigestion (dyspepsia), frequent burping, heartburn or reflux.
- swelling of the abdomen, or feeling bloated
- nausea and/or vomiting.
Oesophageal cancer symptoms
Symptoms of oesophageal cancer may include:
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or painful swallowing (odynophagia)
- pain behind the breastbone and/or heartburn (reflux)
- vomiting of saliva, food or blood
- hoarseness or coughing.
Stomach and oesophageal cancer statistics
- Each year, about 2000 people in Australia are diagnosed with stomach cancer.
- Stomach cancer makes up 2% of cancer cases in men and 1.4% of cancer cases in women.
- Oesophageal cancer affects about 1450 people in Australia each year. It is rarer, making up 1.4% of cancer cases in men and 0.8% of cancer cases in women.
- Both stomach and oesophageal cancers are more common in males – about three out of four people diagnosed with one of these cancers are men.
- The average age of people diagnosed with either type of cancer is 69.
- These cancers are usually found in people over the age of 60 but can sometimes occur in younger people.
The aim of this information is to help you understand about stomach and oesophageal cancer. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.