Stomach Cancer: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

People with stomach cancer may experience the following symptoms or signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like by taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with stomach cancer do not have any of the symptoms and signs described below. Or, the cause may be a medical condition that is not cancer.

Stomach cancer is usually not found at an early stage because it often does not cause specific symptoms. Currently, there is no recommended screening for stomach cancer for people before a symptom or sign appears. In general, it is more common for people to be diagnosed with stomach cancer after symptoms and signs appear.

When symptoms do occur, they may be vague and can include those listed below. It is important to remember that these symptoms can also be caused by many other illnesses, such as a stomach virus or an ulcer.

  • Indigestion or heartburn

  • Pain or discomfort in the abdomen

  • Nausea and vomiting, particularly vomiting up solid food shortly after eating

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Bloating of the stomach after meals

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sensation of food getting stuck in the throat while eating

Symptoms of advanced stomach cancer may include:

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Vomiting blood or having blood in the stool

  • Unexplained weight loss

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you’ve been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If cancer is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative care" or "supportive care." Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.