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Gastric Cancer: Overview and Symptoms

Gastric cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and the 11th most common in the United States. It is most common in Japan, Chile, and parts of Eastern Europe. In the U.S., it affects African–Americans, Asian–Americans, and Latinos more commonly than other demographic groups.

The number of cases has been decreasing steadily over the last century. This is likely due to better methods of food preservation, including refrigeration. Nonetheless, gastric cancer remains one of the most lethal cancers, with a five–year survival rate in the United States of less than 20 percent.

In Japan, where there is a particularly high incidence of gastric cancer, screening programs of all adults are used to identify early cases. As a result, survival rates in Japan have improved significantly. However, due to the relatively low incidence of gastric cancer in the United States, mass screening is not currently available.


  • Tumors generally cause no symptoms until the disease is advanced.
  • When symptoms occur, the most common are weight loss, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and a feeling of fullness in the stomach.
  • Less common symptoms include difficulty swallowing, black stools, a noticeable abdominal mass, and fluid in the abdomen (called ascites).


Gastric Cancer: Risk Factors, Diagnosis, and Treatment >>