Stomach Cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis

Although stomach (gastric) cancer is not as common as today, it is important to be aware of the symptoms that may help to identify stomach cancer at an early stage, when treatment can be most effective.

Stomach cancer may cause one or more of the following symptoms: 

  • Indigestion or heartburn (burning sensation)
  • Discomfort or pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloating after meals
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sensation of food getting stuck in the throat
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Vomiting blood or blood in the stool
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling or fluid buildup in the abdomen 

These symptoms can also indicate conditions other than stomach cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Diagnosing Stomach Cancer
One or more of the following tests may be used to diagnose stomach cancer. 

  • Upper endoscopy uses a thin, flexible, lighted tube inserted into the mouth and guided down the throat to allow your doctor to view your stomach and remove a tissue sample for biopsy, if needed.  An ultrasound device on the tip of the scope may be used to obtain  images of the stomach and determine if the cancer has spread.
  • A biopsy involves the removal of a sample of stomach tissue to be examined under the microscope for the presence of cancer. The sample is usually obtained during an upper endoscopy procedure.
  • An upper gastrointestinal (GI) series (also called a barium swallow) consists of X-rays of the upper digestive system (the esophagus, stomach and first section of the small intestine) with use of barium, an imaging agent, to outline any abnormal areas.  
  • A fecal occult blood test examines a small sample of stool  for the presence of blood, which may indicate cancer.


At Houston Methodist, we are dedicated to providing stomach cancer screening to our patients, as well as leading-edge diagnosis and treatment options that deliver the best possible results.

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