Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, affects the stomach, which is found in the upper part of the abdomen and just below the ribs. The stomach is part of the body's digestive system. It produces acids and enzymes that break down food before passing it to the small intestine. The cancer can develop in any part of the stomach and spread up towards the esophagus (the tube that connects mouth to the stomach) or down into the small intestine.
Rates of stomach cancer vary widely throughout the world. The highest incidence rates are found in Eastern Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. In Canada, it is estimated that approximately 4,000 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer on a yearly basis. This type of cancer more often strikes older people, men more often than women, and people of African descent more often than Caucasians.