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What is advanced stomach cancer?

Advanced stomach cancer means that a cancer that began in the stomach has spread to at least one other part of the body, such as the liver or lungs.

Diagram showing stomach cancer that has spread to distant body parts

Unfortunately advanced cancer can’t usually be cured. But treatment might control it, help symptoms, and improve your quality of life for a while.

Sometimes cancer is advanced when it is first diagnosed. Or the cancer has come back and spread after treatment for the original cancer.

Cancers that have spread to another part of the body are called:

  • secondary cancer
  • metastases
  • metastatic cancer

Doctors also describe how advanced stomach cancer is using the number staging system. Stage 4 stomach cancer means you have advanced cancer. 

Locally advanced cancer

Locally advanced cancer is cancer that has spread into the tissues around the stomach. It hasn’t spread to other organs, which is different to an advanced cancer.

Where stomach cancer spreads

Stomach cancer can spread to the:

  • liver
  • lungs
  • lymph nodes
  • tissue lining the abdominal cavity (peritoneum)

How you might feel

Finding out that you can’t be cured is distressing and can be a shock. It’s common to feel uncertain and anxious. It's normal to not be able to think about anything else.

Lots of information and support is available to you, your family and friends. It can help to find out more about your cancer and the treatments you might have. Many people find that knowing more about their situation can make it easier to cope.

    Talk to your doctor or nurse to understand:

    • what your diagnosis means
    • what is likely to happen
    • what treatment is available
    • how treatment can help you

    Everyone is different and there is no right way to feel.

    Many people want to know what the outlook is and how their cancer will develop. This is different for each person. Your cancer specialist has all the information about you and your cancer. They're the best person to discuss this with.

    You can also talk to your specialist nurse.

    For information and support, you can phone the Cancer Research UK nurses on 0808 800 4040, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
    Last reviewed: 
    22 Aug 2019
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