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Types and grades

The type of stomach cancer you have depends on the type of cell it starts in. The grade means how abnormal the cells look under a microscope.

Knowing the type and grade of stomach cancer you have helps your doctor decide which treatment you need. 

Types of stomach cancer


Adenocarcinomas are cancers that develop in gland cells in the lining of the stomach. These cells make mucus and stomach juices. Adenocarcinoma is the most common type of stomach cancer.

Linitis plastica is a rare type of adenocarcinoma.

Rare types of stomach cancer

Other rare cancers can develop in the stomach. This includes:

  • lymphoma
  • gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST)
  • neuroendocrine tumours
  • leiomyosarcoma
  • squamous cell cancer

Squamous cell cancer is treated in the same way as adenocarcinoma. Our information on the staging and treatment of stomach cancer is about adenocarcinoma.

Go to your cancer type if you have a GIST, lymphoma, neuroendocrine or leiomyosarcoma stomach.

Grades of stomach cancer

The grade means how abnormal the cells look under a microscope. Knowing the grade gives your doctor an idea of how the cancer might behave and what treatment you need.

The grades of cancer cells are from 1 to 3:

  • grade 1 (low grade) look like normal stomach cells
  • grade 2 look a bit like normal cells
  • grade 3 (high grade) look very abnormal and not like normal cells
Last reviewed: 
22 Aug 2019
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th Edition)
    M Amin and S Edge.
    Springer, 2017.

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    J Tobias and D Hochhauser
    Wiley-Blackwell, 2015

  • Gastric cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up 
    E Smyth and others, 
    Annals of Oncology, 2016. Volume 27, Pages v38–v49

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