Advertisement

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

Jill Onesti, MD
Surgical Oncology
Many times, gastrointestinal (GI) or stomach cancer does not cause symptoms until it is fairly advanced. You may notice pain with eating or significant reflux pain. Some people experience a vague discomfort in the middle part of the abdomen just underneath the breastbone. Stomach cancer may also be noticed because of anemia or low hemoglobin levels. Significant weight loss and vomiting are often a sign of advanced cancer.
 
Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
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.  
The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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
Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Gastroenterology
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.
Robynne K. Chutkan, MD
Gastroenterology

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


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.

Continue Learning about Gastrointestinal Cancer

How Stomach Cancer is Diagnosed
How Stomach Cancer is Diagnosed
Early detection is vital to successfully treating stomach cancer. Here, gastroenterologist Dr. Robynne Chutkan explains the symptoms to look out for a...
Read More
News: Colorectal Cancer Screenings Should Start at 45, Says American Cancer Society
News: Colorectal Cancer Screenings Should Start at 45, Says American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has updated its guidelines for colorectal cancer screening to recommend that adults at average risk should begin scr...
Read More
Are the symptoms the same for colon, rectal, and anal cancer?
Dr. Daniel R. Spogen, MDDr. Daniel R. Spogen, MD
Symptoms for colon, rectal and anal cancer can be similar, but none of the symptoms are specific to ...
More Answers
How does diet affect my risk of stomach cancer?
Dr. Robynne K. Chutkan, MDDr. Robynne K. Chutkan, MD
Nitrates and nitrites in smoked and preserved meats can form compounds called nitrosamines. Animal s...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.