Stomach cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the world. However, it has become less common in the United States, particularly in the last few decades.

Stomach cancer was a leading cause of tumor-related deaths in Europe and the U.S. throughout the early 20th century.

However, medical advancements have reduced new cases and deaths worldwide. In the last 10 years, new cases of stomach cancer in the U.S. have fallen by about 1.5% each year.

This article examines stomach cancer statistics, who it affects, its prevalence, and more.

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The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates new diagnoses and deaths will occur in 2023 at the following rates:

  • New cases: ACS estimates health professionals will diagnose 26,500 people with stomach cancer, impacting about 15,930 males and 10,570 females.
  • Deaths: Stomach cancer will result in about 11,130 deaths – 6,690 males and 4,440 females.
  • Compared to other cancers: According to one source, stomach cancer is the fifth-leading cancer globally. It’s the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths globally.

Learn about the survival rates of stomach cancer.

The risk groups for stomach cancer can be defined by:

  • Age: People 65 and older are more likely to receive a diagnosis of stomach cancer. The average age of a person receiving a diagnosis is 68.
  • Gender: Males are more likely to develop stomach cancer than females. The ACS estimates 1 in 96 males can develop stomach cancer during their lifetime. For females, the risk of developing stomach cancer is 1 in 152.
  • Physique: People who are overweight or have obesity may have a higher risk.
  • Location: Asian countries report about 75% of all new cases and deaths, primarily in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Bhutan.
  • Occupation: Cement, coal, metal, and rubber industry workers may face a higher risk.

Learn whether stomach cancer is hereditary.

There are multiple factors contributing to stomach cancer risk.

Personal predisposition, pre-existing conditions, and lifestyle or environmental factors may increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.

Personal risk factors may include:

  • Family history: A family history of stomach cancer can increase a person’s risk.
  • Genetic disorders: People with diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC), Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), gastric adenoma and proximal polyposis of the stomach (GAPPS), Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS) may be at a higher risk.
  • Genetic variations: People with mutation or deletion of p53, BRCA2, MSH2, and MLH1 genes can have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer.
  • Blood type: Type A blood may correlate with an increased stomach cancer risk. Experts are unsure why this is the case.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Common variable immune deficiency (CVID) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection also increase a person’s risk.

Lifestyle factors may include:

  • Diet: A high amount of salt and smoked foods, primarily meats and fish, combined with low consumption of fruits and vegetables, can increase the risk of developing stomach cancer.
  • Tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes leads to a significant risk increase — 40% for smokers and 82% for heavy smokers.
  • Alcohol consumption: An analysis of 81 studies confirmed an increased risk associated with alcohol consumption, especially in high amounts.
  • Occupation: Cement, coal, mining, and metal industry workers who use certain materials, as well as farmers exposed to arsenic in soil, may be at a higher risk.

Environmental factors may include:

  • Helicobacter pylori infection: Also known as H. pylori, this infection is a primary cause and established risk factor for stomach cancer.
  • Radiation: In some cases, radiation exposure may contribute to stomach cancer development.
  • Proximity: Exposure to asbestos or living near hazardous waste incinerators, production houses for cement, lime, plaster, and magnesium oxide, as well as exposure to cadmium and lead, can increase a person’s risk of stomach cancer.

Other risk factors may include prior stomach surgery, certain stomach polyps, pernicious anemia, Ménétrier disease (hypertrophic gastropathy), and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Learn when to worry about stomach cancer.

There is no confirmed way to prevent stomach cancer. However, the following may help reduce the risk.

  • avoiding living near mineral, metal, and hazardous waste industries, if possible
  • avoiding smoking tobacco and consuming alcohol, or practicing moderation
  • immediately treating H. pylori with antibiotics
  • noticing symptoms related to stomach cancer, such as abdominal pain
  • pursuing screening for early detection
  • storing and preserving food in refrigerators and freezers
  • limiting salted and smoked foods
  • eating fruits and vegetables every day
  • engaging in regular physical activity

More than 200 studies have found that consuming fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of malignant stomach tumors. The Mediterranean diet may have a significant impact on preventing gastric cancer.

Specifically, eating raw cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and those containing fiber and vitamins A and C, may reduce the likelihood of developing stomach cancer.

Learn more about some cancer-fighting foods.

Stomach cancer has become less common in the United States. In the last 50 years, deaths from stomach cancer in females and males have significantly declined in high-income countries.

Advancements in food storage and diet, treating infections, and screening techniques have led to significant improvements.

However, stomach cancer remains a leading cause of cancer-related death in some East Asian countries and developing areas around the globe.

Learn more about cancer in our dedicated hub.