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Symptoms of advanced stomach cancer

The symptoms of advanced stomach cancer depend on what part of the body the cancer has spread to. 

Advanced stomach cancer means that a cancer that began in the stomach has spread to another part of the body.

General symptoms

The most common symptoms of stomach cancer include:

  • unexplained weight loss
  • blood in your poo (stool)
  • feeling and being sick
  • stomach pain
  • difficulty swallowing
  • feeling tired

The most common place for stomach cancer to spread is to the liver. It can also spread to the lungs, to lymph nodes or to the food pipe (oesophagus).

Symptoms of cancer that has spread to the liver

You might have any of the following symptoms if your cancer has spread to the liver:

  • discomfort or pain on the right side of your tummy (abdomen)
  • feeling sick
  • poor appetite and weight loss
  • a swollen tummy (called ascites)
  • yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
  • itchy skin
Diagram showing stomach cancer that has spread to the liver

Symptoms if cancer has spread to the lungs

You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread into the lungs:

  • a cough that doesn’t go away
  • breathlessness
  • ongoing chest infections
  • coughing up blood
  • a build up of fluid between the chest wall and the lung (a pleural effusion)
Diagram showing stomach cancer that has spread to the lungs

Symptoms if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes

Lymph nodes are part of a system of tubes and glands in the body that filters body fluids and fights infection.

The most common symptom if cancer has spread to the lymph nodes is that they feel hard or swollen. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck area can make it hard to swallow.

Cancer cells can also stop lymph fluid from draining away. This might lead to swelling in the neck or face due to fluid buildup in that area. The swelling is called lymphoedema.

Diagram showing stomach cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes

Symptoms if cancer has spread to the food pipe (oesophagus)

You may have any of these symptoms if your cancer has spread to the oeosphagus:

  • heartburn or indigestion that doesn’t go away
  • pain
  • feeling or being sick
  • poor appetite
  • losing weight
  • darker poo due to blood
Last reviewed: 
22 Aug 2019
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th Edition)
    M Amin and S Edge.
    Springer, 2017.

  • Cancer and its management (7th edition)
    Tobias and Hochauser
    Wiley Blackwell, 2015

  • Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer
    National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), 2004

  • Gastric cancer
    Cutsem and others
    The Lancet, 2016

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