Stomach cancer

Stomach cancer, or gastric cancer, is a less common type of cancer. The early symptoms (see below) are similar to those in less serious conditions, and it is often diagnosed at a late stage. You should get any persistent symptoms checked by your GP to rule out stomach cancer.

Symptoms for stomach cancer

The initial symptoms of stomach cancer are vague and easy to mistake for other less serious conditions. They include:

Symptoms of advanced stomach cancer can include:

  • blood in your stools, or black stools
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

When to see your GP

As the early symptoms of stomach cancer are similar to those of many other conditions, the cancer is often advanced by the time it's diagnosed.

It's therefore important not to delay asking your GP for advice if you think you have the symptoms.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine your tummy. If they think that stomach cancer may be a possibility they'll refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

Causes of stomach cancer

The exact cause of stomach cancer is still unclear, although you're more likely to develop it if you:

  • are male
  • are 55 years of age or older
  • smoke
  • have a diet low in fibre and high in processed food or red meat
  • have a diet that contains a lot of salted and pickled foods
  • have a stomach infection caused by Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria

Treating stomach cancer

Many cases of stomach cancer can't be completely cured. But it's still possible to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life using chemotherapy and in some cases radiotherapy and surgery.

The health professional looking after your care will discuss with you the most appropriate treatment.

If it is decided that it is best to operate, surgery can cure stomach cancer, as long as all of the cancerous tissue can be removed.

Surgery to remove some or all of the stomach is known as a gastrectomy. It will still be possible to eat normally after a gastrectomy, but you'll probably have to adjust the size of your portions.

Chemotherapy can also be used before surgery to help shrink the tumour and sometimes after surgery to help prevent the cancer returning.

Living with stomach cancer

Being diagnosed with cancer is a tough challenge for most people. But support is available to help you cope – see the ‘more useful links’ section.

You may find the following advice helpful:

  • keep talking to your friends and family – they can be a powerful support system
  • talk to others in the same situation
  • research your condition
  • set reasonable goals
  • take time out for yourself

Outlook

The outlook for stomach cancer depends on several factors, including your age, your general health, and how far the cancer has spread (the stage of the condition).

Unfortunately, as stomach cancer isn't often picked up until the later stages, the outlook isn't as good as for some other cancers. Of all those with stomach cancer in Northern Ireland, about:

  • 43 out of 100 people will live for at least one year after diagnosis and treatment
  • 19 out of 100 people will live for at least five years after diagnosis and treatment

With improvements in treatment, and earlier diagnosis, the outlook has been steadily improving overall, for people diagnosed with stomach cancer in Northern Ireland.

The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.

For further information see terms and conditions.

Health conditions A to Z

Search by health condition or symptoms

Or find conditions beginning with …

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.