Question

Gastrointestinal Cancer

What are the symptoms of gastrointestinal (GI) or stomach cancer?

A Answers (8)

  • The majority of stomach cancer patients have non-specific complaints, such as:

    • Indigestion or heartburn
    • Abdominal discomfort (bloating, belching, gas pains, etc.)
    • Loss of appetite
    • Occasional vomiting
    • Diarrhea or constipation
    • Unexplained weight loss
    • Decreased ability to eat a large meal

    These symptoms could be associated with less serious diagnoses like gastritis or peptic ulcer disease, so don’t assume you have stomach cancer should you experience some of them. However, if symptoms persist - especially after treatment - further investigation should be made.

    Other less common, yet serious, symptoms are:

    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Vomiting blood or blood in the stool

    Should you experience these symptoms, don’t delay medical attention.   

  • APenn Medicine answered

    Stomach cancer is usually not discovered until it becomes more advanced when it causes symptoms. Symptoms of stomach cancer include:

    • Pain in the abdomen
    • Indigestion and loss of appetite
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Fatigue
    • Losing weight without dieting
    • Feeling full or bloated after a small meal
    • Abdominal swelling
    • Vomiting blood or having blood in the stool
  • AWesley B. Jones, MD, Surgery, answered on behalf of Greenville Health System

    The symptoms of stomach cancer are vague and often mimic those of much more common and benign disorders such as ulcers or inflammation of the stomach. Symptoms include upper abdominal pain, but there may be no symptoms at all. Some patients' only sign of stomach cancer is anemia found on routine blood work. The diagnosis is made typically by upper endoscopy with biopsy.  

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  • ALawrence Friedman, MD, Gastroenterology, answered
    Malignancies of the stomach generally occur later in life, after age 50. Tumors that burrow into the stomach wall often produce symptoms that resemble those associated with ulcers. Eating a full meal can become impossible if growths extrude into the hollow of the organ or spread through the stomach wall, making it too stiff to expand. Warning signs include bleeding, persistent vomiting, a constant sense of nausea or fullness that interferes with normal eating, and weight loss. Stomach cancer usually requires the surgical removal of all or part of the stomach.
  • Early Gastrointestinal (GI) / stomach cancer usually does not cause symptoms. Symptoms usually indicate advanced disease and include abdominal discomfort or pain, blood in stool, bloating (especially after eating), diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, gastrointestinal bleeding, indigestion or heartburn, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, and weight loss.

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  • ARobynne Chutkan, MD, Gastroenterology, answered
    Dr. Robynne Chutkan - What are the symptoms of stomach cancer?

    Gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan discusses the symptoms of stomach cancer. Watch Dr. Chutkan's video for information on digestive disorders and gastrointestinal issues.


  • APatrick Maguire, MD, Oncology, answered
    Classic symptoms of stomach cancer include central upper abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and sometimes extreme fatigue due to blood loss. Patients with cancers of the gastroesophageal (GE) junction (the junction between the stomach and the esophagus) may also develop dysphagia (food sticking during swallowing) or odynophagia (pain during swallowing). It may be difficult at first for the patient or primary doctor to differentiate between signs and symptoms of a possible stomach ulcer, which is very common, versus the less common but more life-threatening diagnosis of stomach cancer.
  • Early symptoms of gastric cancer include indigestion and stomach pain or discomfort; a sense of fullness in the upper abdomen especially after eating, loss of appetite, and mild nausea. More advanced stomach cancer may produce unexplained weight loss, stomach pain, vomiting, tarry (black) stool, trouble swallowing, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), and swelling of the abdomen.

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Could I have stomach cancer if I have appetite loss and stomach pains?