Stomach-Esophageal CancerRSS

Last Updated: November 20, 2013

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What is stomach-esophageal cancer?

Stomach and esophageal cancers are close in anatomical location and have been combined into one project within TCGA. Although they are two separate cancer types, TCGA is collecting samples from various anatomic subsites along the esophageal and gastric tracts for analysis.

Stomach and esophageal cancers pose a significant health problem around the world, however their incidence rates vary widely among geographic regions.1 Though unproven, this may correlate with differences in diet, and exposures to various chemicals and pathogens that are associated with cancerous development.2 Within the United States, the incidence of new cases of both esophageal and stomach cancers was estimated to be about 39,590 in 2013. The estimated number of deaths from these diseases is about 26,200.3

In general, older males are at a higher risk of developing either cancer, with a median age around the late 60s. Other risk factors for stomach cancer include a family history of the disease, long-term stomach inflammation, smoking, obesity, having a poor diet high in smoked, salted or pickled foods, as well as general lack of activity.  Another risk factor is infection by the bacteria  Helicobacter pylori in the inner lining of the stomach, which can lead to inflammation, ulcers and in a small number of cases, stomach cancer itself. Researchers are also studying how some viruses, such as Epstein-Barr, have been associated with a small percentage of stomach cancer cases,4 as well as the role of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in esophageal cancer tumors.2

The main risk factors for esophageal cancer are obesity, heavy drinking and smoking. In addition, those who are prone to acid reflux may develop a condition known as Barrett’s esophagus, which may also lead to the disease.

View additional information on stomach cancer.

View additional information on esophageal cancer.

What types of discoveries about stomach cancer and esophageal cancer do The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) researchers hope to make?

  • Determine whether stomach adenocarcinomas can be divided into subgroups according to differences in gene changes
  • Establish whether certain gene changes are linked to infection with H. pylori or viruses such as Epstein-Barr and HPV.
  • Identify differences in gene changes between early and late stage stomach tumors
  • Compare genomic similarities and differences between stomach and esophageal cancers, as well as the similarities and differences between those cancers and Barrett’s esophagus.

Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network’s studies or studies using TCGA data?

View a list of TCGA scientific publications.

Where can I find clinical trials to treat stomach or esophageal cancers that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?

View a list of NCI-supported stomach adenocarcinoma and esophageal cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients.

Selected References

1Das, P., Fukami, N. and Ajani, J.A. (2006). Combined Modality Therapy of Localized Gastric and Esophageal Cancers. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 4:375-382

2What are the Risk Factors for Cancer of the Esophagus? (18 Jan 2013). The American Cancer Society.

3American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures 2013. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, 2010. Estimated deaths for stomach and esophageal cancers are combined.

4Lee, H.S., Chang, M.S., Yang, H.-K., Lee, B.L. and Kim, W.H. (1 Mar 2004) Epstein-Barr Virus-Positive Gastric Carcinoma Has a Distinct Protein Expression Profile in Comparison with Epstein-Barr Virus-Negative Carcinoma