Stomach Cancer Symptoms

Because cancer of the stomach usually develops slowly over years, stomach cancer symptoms come on gradually and may be vague or easy to ignore. In addition, stomach cancer symptoms often aren’t present in the early stages of the disease. Symptoms of stomach cancer vary, depending on the section of the stomach in which the cancer starts.

Early symptoms of stomach cancer may be mistaken for those of a peptic ulcer. Early symptoms may include:

  • Feeling bloated after eating
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild nausea
  • Stomach pain or a vague discomfort in the abdomen, usually above the navel.

As the cancer advances, stomach cancer signs and symptoms can include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Increased stomach pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
  • Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Vomiting.

If you have these symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis, as these could either indicate the presence of stomach cancer or another medical problem.

Stomach cancer is rare in the United States, so early screening isn’t a routine procedure. According to the National Cancer Institute, only about 25 percent of stomach cancer in the United States is found before it has spread to other areas of the body (n.d.).

If you’re at high risk for developing stomach cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about regular screening. Awareness of early symptoms is also essential for successful treatment in many cases.


American Cancer Society. (2010). Stomach cancer. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from

Cancer Centers of America. (n.d.). Gastric cancer. Retrieved February 10, 2011, from

Mayo Clinic. (2009). Stomach cancer. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from

National Cancer Institute. (n.d.). Stomach (gastric) cancer. Retrieved February 7, 2011, from