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How Long Can Stomach Cancer Go Undetected?

While stomach cancer is relatively rare when compared to other types of cancer, it is difficult to detect in its early stages because it often produces no symptoms. As the cancer progresses, the symptoms that do appear can be misdiagnosed as normal gastrointestinal issues. As a result, stomach cancer can go undetected for years before the symptoms become concerning enough to warrant diagnostic testing.

What are the warning signs of stomach cancer?

Symptoms of advanced-stage stomach cancer include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Blood in the stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Vomiting after eating
  • Feeling full after only eating a small amount of food
  • Excessive fatigue

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean that stomach cancer is a certainty. The more likely culprit is a stomach ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome or another GI condition. However, if symptoms don’t improve after making lifestyle changes or if symptoms worsen, be sure to speak with a physician about the possibility of stomach cancer.

If a physician suspects stomach cancer, he or she will refer an individual to a gastroenterologist for further evaluation. This specialist will use screening tests, such as an upper endoscopy, biopsy, CT scan and/or X-ray, to make a diagnosis.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to stomach cancer

Moffitt Cancer Center offers diagnostics and treatment for stomach cancer. Our specialists can assess your symptoms and conduct the diagnostic testing you need. If stomach cancer is diagnosed, we will develop an individualized treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. Treatment for stomach cancer often involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or molecularly targeted therapy. The physicians in our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program focus exclusively on cancers of the GI tract and provide a unique level of experience for our patients. They work alongside our supportive care specialists, who help patients through the emotional challenges of cancer treatment. This well-rounded level of care helps our patients achieve positive outcomes and improved quality of life.

To request a consultation at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.