Recognizing the Subtle Signs of Stomach Cancer

by Dr. Vinay Bhat


Stomach cancer, often referred to as gastric cancer, is a formidable adversary that can strike quietly, with symptoms that often go unnoticed until the disease reaches an advanced stage. In this comprehensive blog, we delve into the subtle signs and symptoms of stomach cancer that can evade early detection. By increasing awareness and understanding the red flags, we aim to empower individuals to seek timely medical attention and potentially improve their prognosis.

The Stealthy Onset of Stomach Cancer:

The initial symptoms of stomach cancer often mimic less serious conditions. This makes early detection challenging but all the more critical for improving outcomes.

1.Abdominal pain – Abdominal pain is often a late symptom of gastric cancer. Abdominal pain can also occur in many other digestive diseases. Persistent or daily symptoms warrants further evaluation.
2. Weight Loss – Weight loss can occur with many advanced cancers. Unexplained or unintentional weight loss should raise suspicion and patients should seek medical care in such conditions.
3. Nausea and Vomiting: Nausea and vomiting occur frequently with many digestive diseases. Persistent symptoms associated with blood in the vomitus can be sign of a more serious medical condition and these patients should be evaluated.
4. Dysphagia – Difficulty in swallowing also known as dysphagia should be evaluated in all cases with an endoscopy. This occurs when the tumor grows and obstructs the passage of food into the stomach.
5. GI bleeding - Any bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract should be taken seriously and evaluated. Although many cases of GI bleed are not cancers, endoscopy and scans may need to be done in these cases to rule out gastric cancer.

6. Fatigue – Fatigue or weakness is often due to anemia or low hemoglobin. This can occur due to occult or overt loss of blood from the GI tract. When these non-specific symptoms persist, they should not be ignored.

When to Seek Medical Attention:

Any symptom that is not a result of an intentional change in diet or lifestyle needs to be evaluated by a specialist. While majority of these symptoms occur due to benign conditions; often we can pick up cancers at an early stage leading to excellent outcomes.


Early symptoms of stomach cancer are non-specific and can be easily missed. Awareness about this can empower individuals to seek timely medical attention. Early detection and intervention offer the best chance of effective treatment and improved outcomes. As we raise awareness about these often-unnoticed symptoms, we can potentially unmask the silent threat of stomach cancer and help save lives through early diagnosis and intervention.

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