Stomach Cancer Health Center

Stomach cancer usually begins in cells in the inner layer of the stomach. Over time, the cancer may invade more deeply into the stomach wall. A stomach tumor can grow through the stomach's outer layer into nearby organs, such as the liver, pancreas, esophagus, or intestine.

Stomach cancer cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor. They enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into all the tissues of the body. The cancer cells may be found in lymph nodes near the stomach. The cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors that may damage those tissues.

Tumors in the stomach can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Benign tumors are not as harmful as malignant tumors:

Benign tumors:

  • are rarely a threat to life
  • can be removed and usually don't grow back
  • do not invade the tissues around them
  • do not spread to other parts of the body

Malignant tumors:

  • may be a threat to life
  • often can be removed but sometimes grow back
  • can invade and damage nearby organs and tissues
  • can spread to other parts of the body
Review Date: 
March 29, 2012
Last Updated:
July 2, 2013