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Early Signs & Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

symptoms of stomach cancer

The stomach is a J-shaped organ responsible for digestion. Enzymes and digestive fluids work together to break down food into smaller particles that the small intestine may absorb.

The development of malignant cells inside the stomach lining causes stomach cancer. 

Also known as stomach cancer, this condition is sometimes difficult to detect in its first stages because it lacks symptoms. Therefore, it is often misdiagnosed until the cancer has already spread to other organs.

Cancer of the stomach is the fifth most prevalent kind of cancer overall and the second most deadly.

Causes of Stomach Cancer

Inherited changes to the DNA of stomach cells lead to the development of stomach cancer. DNA contains instructions for when a cell should divide and when it should be destroyed. Instead of destroying, the mutated cells multiply fast and create a tumor.

Cancer cells invade and replace healthy ones, potentially spreading to other organs (metastasizing).However, there are indications that exposure to these factors may raise one’s risk of acquiring stomach cancer.

  • Gastritis
  • Family history
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Epstein-Barr virus infection
  • Record of stomach ulcers or polyps
  • H. Pylori infection
  • High consumption of salted, pickled, smoked, or fatty foods
  • A Diet lacking in fruit and vegetable intake
  • Autoimmune atrophic gastritis
  • Tobacco use in any form, including vaping, smoking, and chewing
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Obesity

Several hereditary factors have been linked to an increased risk of stomach cancer.

  • Common variable immunodeficiency (CVID)
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis
  • Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Peutz-Jeghers syndrome

People with Type A blood are at an increased risk for stomach cancer, but the reasons are unclear.

Signs & Symptoms of Stomach Cancer

These are some of the early warning indicators that you may have stomach cancer:

  • Feeling full: Most people with stomach cancer report feeling “full” in the upper abdomen, even after eating relatively light meals.
  • Heartburn: A stomach tumor may cause symptoms such as indigestion, heartburn, or those comparable to an ulcer.
  • Nausea and vomiting: Nausea and vomiting are common complaints among those with stomach cancer. It’s not uncommon for people to throw up blood.

The following are some additional common signs of stomach cancer:

  • Unexpected weight loss: Cancer is often accompanied by a lack of appetite or sudden weight loss.
  • Abdominal pain: Symptoms of a stomach tumor may include abdominal pain or soreness above the navel. Stomach cancer may also lead to abdominal edema or fluid accumulation.

In most cases, these signs aren’t due to stomach cancer but rather to something less serious, such as an ulcer, a stomach illness, or even heavy lunch. Early detection of stomach cancer may be difficult since many of the symptoms are vague or might be ascribed to more frequent conditions.

Anybody with unexplained or worsening stomach symptoms should seek a medical consultation in the early stages. Doctors may be able to determine the cause of the symptoms and provide effective treatment for stomach cancer, whether the issue is stomach cancer or something else.

stomach cancer

Advanced symptoms of stomach cancer

Cancer may begin to cause more obvious symptoms as it increases in size and spreads outside of the stomach. Some of the symptoms of advanced Stomach Cancer include:

  • Stools with Blood
  • Jaundice 
  • Swelling or accumulation of fluid around the abdominal wall
  • Having trouble swallowing
Stages of stomach cancer


While stomach cancer cannot always be avoided, it is often curable if diagnosed early. Your healthcare practitioner may suggest surgery to remove cancer cells or tumors if you have been diagnosed with cancer. They could advise a treatment regimen that combines many methods to reduce the number of cancer cells or eliminate them. You and your doctor should talk about several things that might affect your prognosis. 

Dr. Aditya Kulkarni

MS, DNB, FRCS, MCh (Surgical Gastroenterology & GI Oncology)

Dr. Aditya Kulkarni is a Consultant of Laparoscopic and Robotic Gastrointestinal, Hepato-biliary-pancreatic, and Cancer Surgeon at the Renowned Oasis Surgery Clinic Pune.

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