Gastric (Stomach) Cancer | Cancer


Gastric (Stomach) Cancer

Our nationally recognized center provides the most advanced treatment for gastric cancer. You have access to every specialty you need in a compassionate environment.

Medically reviewed on Nov. 30, 2023.

Woman holding her stomach while talking to health care provider.

What Is Gastric Cancer?

Gastric cancer, also called stomach cancer, includes a group of cancers that originate in your stomach. The most common stomach cancer is adenocarcinoma, which starts in your stomach’s surface layer. Less common types of stomach cancers affect your stomach’s middle or outer layers.

At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, you receive world-class care for any type of stomach cancer. Our center is one of the few in the nation with a comprehensive cancer center designation from the National Cancer Institute. We provide the newest innovations in gastric cancer therapies through our ongoing research.  


Gastric Cancer Symptoms

You may not feel symptoms when stomach cancer is in the early stages. Usually, people only have symptoms after the tumor gets larger or the cancer spreads to another area of the body.

Early Symptoms

Early stage symptoms of stomach cancer include:

  • Bloating after you eat
  • Feeling full after eating a small meal
  • Heartburn
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea

Later Symptoms

As the tumor grows or spreads, you may notice:

  • Ascites (swelling and fluid in your belly area)
  • Blood in your stool
  • Fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes)
  • Stomach pain
  • Swallowing problems
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

Causes and Risk Factors of Gastric Cancer

Gastric cancer occurs when the DNA in your stomach cells mutates (changes). The DNA tells your stomach cells to grow out of control. Over time, these uncontrolled cells form a tumor that can grow and spread to other areas of your body.

In most cases, there is no single cause of stomach cancer. DNA mutation is often a result of many different factors, including your genetics and things in your environment.

There are also risk factors that may cause you to be more likely to develop stomach cancer: 

Helicobacter Pylori Infection

H. pylori is a bacterium (germ) that infects your stomach’s lining. People with this bacterial infection are more likely to develop stomach cancer than people without the infection.

Genetics and Family History

A family history of stomach cancer or specific cancer syndromes raises your risk of stomach cancer. Cancer syndromes include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), juvenile polyposis syndrome, Lynch syndrome, and CDH1 gene mutation.


Most cases of stomach cancer affect people ages 65 or older.


People who eat more red and processed meats and fewer fruits and vegetables may be more likely to get stomach cancer.


Stomach cancer is more likely to affect Pacific Islanders and African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans.

Stomach Surgery or Polyps

If you had a prior stomach surgery or stomach polyps (growths), you could be more likely to develop stomach cancer.

Tobacco Use

Smoking increases your risk of getting stomach cancer.


People who have excess weight or obesity are more likely to develop stomach cancer.


Diagnosis and Testing for Gastric Cancer

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center experts have decades of experience diagnosing stomach cancer. We provide the latest tests so you get answers.

First, we perform a physical exam and discuss your medical history. Our compassionate team answers your questions and listens to your concerns. Then, we may recommend medical tests, including:

  • Blood tests: We use a sample of your blood to look for possible signs of cancer or other health conditions.
  • Upper GI contrast study: Also called an upper GI series, this test provides detailed images of your esophagus, stomach and part of your small intestine.
  • CT scan: We may use a CT scan to take pictures of your stomach and surrounding organs from different angles.
  • Fecal occult blood test: We examine a small sample of your stool under a microscope for signs of blood.
  • Upper endoscopy: We guide a thin, lighted tube (endoscope) down your throat to examine your esophagus, stomach and duodenum. We may also take a biopsy (tissue sample) during this test.

Gastric Cancer Treatments

At UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, you receive a personalized stomach cancer treatment plan. Our team works together to target the specific type, stage and location of cancer.

We have the largest and most comprehensive cancer center in inland Northern California. We provide every specialty you need and ongoing support and guidance at each step. You also have access to clinical trials offering the latest breakthroughs in stomach cancer treatment.

Your treatment plan may include:


Our Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology provides the latest chemotherapy medications for stomach cancer. Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC), which puts chemotherapy drugs directly in your abdomen, can work well for stomach cancers. Our specialists customize your medication for maximum results.


At our center, you have access to the full range of advanced immunotherapy options. These treatments help your immune system detect and fight cancer cells. Our experts carefully evaluate the tumor’s characteristics and select the immunotherapy medication that will work best.

Radiation Therapy

Experts in our Department of Radiation Oncology are national leaders in radiation therapy. Our physicians and physicists provide the latest radiotherapy advances for the best results with fewer side effects.


Also called chemoradiotherapy, this advanced therapy combines chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This customized combination often provides better outcomes than one of these treatments alone.


Our Division of Surgical Oncology includes surgeons who specialize in treating stomach cancer. We provide every type of gastric cancer surgery, including subtotal and total gastrectomy, and laser therapy.

Early stage gastric cancer may be removed through the nose. Endoluminal stents may also be placed for advanced stage cancer to ease the pain without removing the cancer.

Targeted Therapy

As innovators and pioneers in cancer care, our specialists are at the forefront of the latest targeted therapy medications. These drugs target cancer cells to slow their growth or kill them. We perform specialized tests on the tumor’s cells to identify the most effective option for you.


Preventing Stomach Cancer

You cannot always prevent stomach cancer, but you can lower your risk if you:

Don’t Smoke

Research shows that not smoking will lower your risk of stomach cancer.

Eat More Plants

You can decrease your chance of getting stomach cancer by consuming more fruits and vegetables and less red and processed meat.

Get More Physical Activity

Regular walking and other exercises can lower stomach cancer risk.

Work Toward a Healthy Weight

Losing excess pounds could help you prevent stomach cancer and other health problems.

“Key Statistics About Stomach Cancer,” American Cancer Society,

“Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Prevention (PDQ) - Health Professional Version,” National Cancer Institute,

Who does it affect?

26.5KU.S. adults are diagnosed with stomach cancer each year

Annual deaths

11K+People die from stomach cancer each year

Source: National Cancer Institute. Cancer Stat Facts: Stomach Cancer

Request an Appointment

Our cancer specialists provide thorough evaluations and personalized treatment plans. Learn more about how to make an appointment at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.



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