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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Stomach Cancer, Version 1.2016


Stomach cancer basics

The stomach

The stomach

The digestive system breaks down food for the body

to use. In this system, the stomach is one of four

organs that make up the GI (




ntestinal) tract.

Food is transferred from your mouth to your stomach

through the esophagus. In the stomach, food is broken

down into a liquid. From the stomach, food enters the

small intestine where nutrients are absorbed into the

bloodstream. The large intestine prepares unused

food to be moved out of the body.

As shown in

Figure 1

, the stomach is a large, bean-

shaped sac. Its wall has four main layers. The inner

layer that has contact with food is called the mucosa.

It is made of three sublayers—the epithelium, lamina

propria, and muscularis mucosae.

Epithelium makes a sticky, thick liquid called mucus

that protects the stomach. The lamina propria contains

connective tissue, tiny lymph vessels, and glands.

Lymph is a clear fluid that gives cells water and food

and contains germ-fighting blood cells. The muscularis

mucosae is a thin strip of muscle.

The second layer of the stomach wall is called the

submucosa. It consists of connective tissue and blood

and nerve cells. It also contains larger lymph vessels.

The third layer is called the muscularis propria. It is

mostly made of muscle fibers. These muscles help

move food through the stomach.

The fourth layer is the outer most part of the stomach

wall. It consists of serosa. The serosa, also called the

visceral peritoneum, is a membrane. It has a thin layer

of connective tissue, called the subserosa, which is

covered by a single row of cells that make lubricating

fluid. This fluid allows the stomach to move smoothly

against other organs.

Figure 1.

The stomach

The stomach is part of the GI

tract. It breaks food down into

a liquid for the body to use. Its

wall has four main layers—the

mucosa, submucosa, muscularis

propria, and serosa.

Illustration Copyright © 2016 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.



muscularis propria


stomach wall