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If you experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to cancer. Most of these symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.

Unfortunately, the first symptoms of stomach cancer are very vague and general (such as decreased appetite and fatigue). Because these can be symptoms of many other conditions, people often ignore them. This often gives the cancer a chance to grow and spread before it is diagnosed.

Other symptoms of stomach cancer include the following:

  • Heartburn or indigestion—A burning feeling in the center of the chest, a feeling of uncomfortable fullness, and an upset stomach are common. Of course, these are common sensations in many other conditions, so people often do not seek help until they notice other symptoms as well.
  • Pain—As stomach cancer progresses, you are likely to feel an increasing amount of pain. The pain is typically in the upper abdomen and may radiate or travel to the back. This may be aggravated by eating or by pressure placed on the abdomen. If the cancer spreads to other locations such as the liver or bone, you may experience pain in those areas as well.
  • Nausea and vomiting—Due to the presence of the cancer, many people feel queasy or nauseous.
  • Difficulty swallowing—Tumors in the portion of the stomach close to the esophagus may make swallowing difficult.
  • Decreased appetite—You may notice that your appetite is decreased, and you feel full with a much smaller amount of food than usual.
  • Unintended weight loss—Unintentional weight loss is a frequent symptom of stomach cancer. This may result from a decreased appetite or from the cancer interfering with your body’s ability to digest and utilize nutrition from the food you eat.
  • Bloating—Your stomach may feel overly full and bloated.
  • Weakness and fatigue—These symptoms are particularly common when you have developed anemia due to bleeding from the stomach.


Gastric carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated September 16, 2016. Accessed September 26, 2016.

Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 1998: 733-749.

What is stomach cancer? American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed December 2002.

What you need to know about stomach cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at Accessed December 2002.

Last reviewed September 2016 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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