Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC) is a type of stomach (gastric) cancer that runs through families. HDGC is different from other types of stomach cancer because the cancer cells do not form into a solid tumor. Instead, HDGC cancer cells disperse or scatter throughout the stomach tissue. Because of this, this type of cancer spreads (metastasizes) more easily to other parts of the body.
Symptoms of this condition are often not recognized until the cancer is in later stages. These symptoms may include stomach pain, vomiting, and weight loss. Unfortunately, this type of cancer is difficult to catch in early stages. Therefore, if you have a history of HDGC in your family, it is important to get regular and frequent stomach (endoscopy) exams to detect for any cancer cell formation.
HDGC is caused by a genetic mutation in the CDH1 gene which is located on chromosome 16. When a mutation is present in the gene, the gene is unable to pass along the correct instructions to the rest of the cells of the body. As a result, a person with a mutation in the CDH1 gene has a higher risk of developing HDGC, lobular breast cancer, and some forms of colon cancer.
Inheriting a CDH1 mutation does not mean that you will definitely develop these forms of cancer. Rather, the mutation increases your risk of developing HDGC, lobular breast cancer and colon cancer. If you have a family member diagnosed with HDGC or a mutation in the CDH1 gene, talk with a genetic counselor to see if genetic testing is right for you. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with HDGC, talk with your doctor and specialists about the most current treatment options.