What is the stomach?
The stomach is an organ of digestion. It has a saclike shape and
is located between the esophagus and the intestines. Almost every
animal has a stomach.
The human stomach is a muscular, elastic, pear-shaped bag, lying
crosswise in the abdominal cavity beneath the diaphragm. It
changes size and shape according to is position of the body and
the amount of food inside. The stomach is about 12 inches (30.5
cm) long and is 6 inches. (15.2 cm) wide at its widest point. The
stomach's capacity is about 1 qt (0.94 liters) in an adult.
Food enters the stomach from the esophagus. The connection between
the stomach and the esophagus is called the cardiac sphincter. The
cardiac sphincter prevents food from passing back to the
esophagus. Heart burn is the sensation when stomach juices
(gastric juice) is allowed to seep through the sphincter into the
esophagus. Once the food enters the stomach, gastric juices are
used to break down the food. Some substances are absorbed muscle
lining of the stomach. One of the substances the stomach absorbs
The other end of the stomach empties into the duodenum. The
duodenum is the first section of the small intestine. The pyloric
sphincter separates the stomach from the duodenum.
The stomach is composed of five layers. Starting from the inside
and working our way out, the innermost layer is called the mucosa.
Stomach acid and digestive juices are made in the mucosa layer.
The next layer is called the submucosa. The submucosa is
surrounded by the muscularis, a layer of muscle that moves and
mixes the stomach contents. The next two layers, the subserosa and
the serosa are the wrapping for the stomach. The serosa is the
outermost layer of the stomach.
Stomach cancer is a disease in which normal cells in the stomach
tissues become cancerous and grow out of control.
Experts have been unable to define one primary cause for stomach
cancer, but many factors seem to be involved. Some research
suggests that stomach ulcers or stomach polyps can lead to cancer.
Stomach ulcers are raw or inflamed areas of the stomach lining and
also are called gastric ulcers
Stomach polyps are noncancerous round growths that project into
the stomach cavity
Environmental factors or infection by the bacteria Helicobacter
pylori may be possible causes. Poor diet has also been implicated.
The symptoms of stomach cancer in the early stages can be vague
and include indigestion, discomfort, nausea, or heartburn. Early
symptoms are also symptomatic of many other gastrointestinal
conditions (pertaining to the digestive tract), so having symptoms
does not necessarily mean stomach cancer.
Treatment varies by individual, but may include surgery,
chemotherapy, radiation, biological therapy, or participation in
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