Symptoms of stomach cancer  

Many symptoms of stomach cancer are similar to less serious conditions, so it can be difficult to recognise in the early stages.

Early stage symptoms include:

  • persistent indigestion
  • trapped wind and frequent burping
  • heartburn
  • feeling full very quickly when eating
  • feeling bloated after eating
  • feeling sick
  • pain in your stomach or breastbone
  • difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
  • vomiting (the vomit may be streaked with blood), although this is uncommon in the early stages

Advanced stomach cancer

Symptoms of more advanced stomach cancer include:

  • blood in your stools, or black stools
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • tiredness
  • lumpiness and swelling in your stomach (caused by a build-up of fluid)
  • anaemia (a reduced number of red blood cells that can cause you to feel tired and breathless)
  • yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)

When to seek medical help

Stomach cancer is usually easier to treat if it's diagnosed early. It's therefore important for your GP to refer you to a specialist as soon as possible if stomach cancer is suspected.

Stomach cancer is much more common in older people, with 90 out of 100 cases occurring in people who are over 55 years of age.

Indigestion is a very common symptom in the general population. However, it's unlikely that someone with indigestion who's under the age of 55 will have stomach cancer.

However, see your GP if you have indigestion and weight loss, anaemia or persistent vomiting. They should refer you to a specialist for further testing.

Also see your GP if you have difficulty swallowing. This isn't a common symptom among the general population and the cause should always be investigated.

Read more about diagnosing stomach cancer.

You can also read more about being referred to a stomach cancer specialist on Cancer Research UK. 

Page last reviewed: 28/10/2015

Next review due: 28/10/2017