Early stomach cancer often doesn’t cause diagnosable symptoms. As the cancer grows, common symptoms include: discomfort in the stomach area, bloating or a feeling of fullness after a small meal, nausea, vomiting, and weight loss. These symptoms are most often not caused by cancer, but by ulcers or infections.

If a patient has these symptoms, a doctor may refer the patient to a gastroenterologist, a doctor who specializes in digestive problems. The doctor may perform one or more of the following procedures to determine if cancer is present:

Physical Exam - The doctor feels the abdomen to check for fluid, swelling, or other changes. The doctor checks for swollen lymph nodes and checks the skin and eyes for signs of jaundice.

Upper GI Series - The patient drinks a solution made of barrier, which makes the stomach show up more clearly on x-rays. The doctor then x-rays the stomach and esophagus.

Endoscopy - The doctor uses a thin, lit tube called an endoscope to look into the stomach. The patient’s throat is numbed with an anesthetic spray, and the doctor passes the endoscope through the mouth and esophagus into the stomach.

Biopsy - A doctor removes samples of tissue from the stomach with the use of an endoscope. A pathologist looks at the tissue sample under a microscope to check for cancer cells. This is the only sure way to tell if stomach cancer is present.

Once the results from the test or procedure are returned you will be able to make thoughtful decisions. Please see Newly Diagnosed  for information on being patient active, treatment decisions, partnering with your healthcare team and finding support. 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is difficult. Please see Caregivers and/or Online Support for more information on how the Cancer Support Community can offer support.

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