Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Signs & Symptoms


What are the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer?

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, can have symptoms at an early stage. They can include an upset stomach and general stomach discomfort. But these also are common signs of other things, such as indigestion or a stomach virus (bug). That’s why stomach cancer is hard to diagnose at stages 1, 2, and 3.

If you have any of these signs and symptoms or are worried, talk with your healthcare provider. They may want to test you if your stomach pain is more constant, and does not come and go. They can talk with you about diagnostic testing.

Common symptoms of early-stage stomach cancer

Often, early stomach cancers at stages 1,2, or 4 are found during tests for other things. For example, stomach cancer can be found during a routine upper endoscopy done for other reasons, such as reflux. An upper endoscopy is a test to look at your esophagus (food pipe), stomach, and the first part of your small intestine.

Symptoms of stage 2 or 3 gastric cancer can be similar to symptoms of stage 1 stomach cancer. They’re caused by the tumor in the stomach. People often notice them more at later stages. They feel stronger, are harder to ignore, and may lead to a diagnosis of stomach cancer.

These are common symptoms of early-stage stomach cancer:

  • Stomach pain, indigestion, or discomfort that does not go away
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating, often after eating
  • Nausea (feeling like throwing up)
  • Loss of appetite (not wanting to eat)
  • Fatigue (feeling very tired) even after resting
  • Trouble eating or swallowing
  • Feeling full after eating only a small amount of food
  • Burping
  • Weight loss
  • Black stool (poop) or blood in stool

Common symptoms of advanced (late-stage) stomach cancer

Stage 4 gastric cancer is advanced, late-stage cancer. It’s also called metastatic stomach cancer. It has spread to other parts of the body and causes symptoms.

Symptoms caused by stage 4 gastric cancer can be the same as symptoms for localized (early stage) stomach cancer. That’s because the symptoms often are caused by the tumor in the stomach.

In stage 4 gastric cancer, weight loss, fatigue, and weakness are more common. They will get worse as cancer cells spread through the body.

Common signs of stage 4 gastric cancer include:

  • Weight loss you cannot explain
  • Vomiting (throwing up) after meals
  • Stomach pain, often after meals
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Burping
  • Jaundice (yellow tint to the skin or the whites of the eyes)
  • Anemia (low blood counts)
  • Stomach ulcer that does not go away
  • Ascites (fluid build-up around the stomach)
  • Weakness

Symptoms of metastatic (stage 4) stomach cancer depends on where it spread to:

  • If stomach cancer has spread to the liver you may have pain on the right side of your abdomen. You also may get jaundice, a yellow tint to the skin or the whites of the eyes.
  • If stomach cancer has spread to the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity) you may feel bloated or swollen.
  • If stomach cancer has spread to the bones you may feel pain in those areas.

What are the common symptoms of advanced stomach cancer?

What are the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer in women and men?

The signs of stomach cancer are the same for women and men. People assigned male at birth are more likely to get gastric cancer than females. Recent research studies, however, suggest gastric cancer may be rising in people born female at birth.   

Do stomach ulcers and cancer cause the same symptoms?

An ulcer is an open sore on the lining of the stomach. Some symptoms of an ulcer and stomach cancer are similar. You can learn more about how stomach ulcers can cause stomach cancer.

Symptoms of stomach ulcers and stomach cancer

A common infection from the bacterium Helicobacter pylori causes most stomach ulcers. An H. pylori infection can break down the stomach’s protective lining. This can cause inflammation (swelling) and stomach ulcers, also known as peptic ulcers or gastric ulcers.

Symptoms of both stomach ulcers and stomach cancer

With both conditions, you can feel:

  • Full, and you do not want to eat
  • Bloated
  • Heartburn (pain in your stomach up to your chest)
  • Mild nausea (feeling like throwing up)

With stomach cancer, a common sign is constant stomach pain. With a stomach ulcer, the most common symptom is a burning pain in the stomach that can come and go. The pain depends on when and what you ate.

Request an Appointment

Call 800-525-2225
Available Monday through Friday, to (Eastern time)