Stomach Cancer

Look to UC San Diego Health for expert stomach cancer care with a team of specialists who puts you at the center of everything they do.

You'll be supported through every step of your journey from diagnosis to treatment to follow-up care.

Nationally Ranked Cancer Care

UC San Diego Health is ranked among the top 50 in the nation for cancer care and gastroenterology by U.S. News & World Report. We are also the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in San Diego County. This is the highest possible rating for a U.S. cancer center, and it means you’ll receive the best possible care and support. Studies show patient outcomes are better at NCI-designated cancer centers. In addition, our specialists care for more patients with stomach and other gastrointestinal cancers than any other San Diego health care system.

Risk Factors for Stomach Cancer

Your risk of developing gastric cancer depends on your:

  • Age
  • Diet (Avoid heavily salted and smoked food. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.)
  • Gender (Men have a slightly higher risk.)
  • History of stomach diseases, such as helicobacter pylori infection or chronic gastritis


Your symptoms may vary depending on where cancer starts and how (or if) it spreads. Early symptoms may include bloating, heartburn, indigestion, stomach discomfort or pain, loss of appetite or mild nausea.

In more advanced stages of stomach cancer, you may experience:

  • Ascites (a buildup of fluid in the abdomen)
  • Blood in the stool
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Pain
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss

When to See a Doctor

Talk to your doctor as soon as you experience any symptoms of stomach problems. When gastric cancer is found early, you have a better chance of recovery.


To diagnose your condition, your doctor may recommend:

  • Blood tests
  • Barium swallow – Look for stomach cancer using a special type of X-ray called fluoroscopy, which shows your digestive tract in real time
  • Physical exam and medical history overview
  • Stomach endoscopy – Places a small camera and sometimes a tiny ultrasound device into your stomach through your throat to look for signs of cancer

Stages of Stomach Cancer

Your prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the stage and extent of cancer and your general health. Your stomach has five layers, and you’re most likely to experience a good outcome if cancer remains in the outer layers.

Your doctor will assign a number to your stage of cancer, from stage I to stage IV. The lower stages are less severe.


Receive a customized care plan to fit your needs and preferences. Your treatment plan may include one or more of the following.


Chemotherapy is a drug that travels throughout your body to kill cancer cells that may have spread beyond your stomach. You may receive chemotherapy alone or combined with radiation therapy or another treatment.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-powered energy beams to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is often combined with chemotherapy.


Surgery offers the best treatment option for stomach cancer since it can remove all cancerous tissue around your stomach. Your doctor may recommend:

  • Gastrectomy – Removes all of the stomach and connects your esophagus to your small intestine
  • Partial gastrectomy – Removes part of the stomach when tumors are small
  • Surgery to remove other organs – Treats tumors that grow outside of the stomach, such as in the spleen

Robotically Assisted Surgery

Receive the highest level of surgical care, including minimally invasive, robotically assisted surgical approaches that can reduce pain and speed your recovery. Trust our expertise because we performed the region's first robotically assisted gastrectomy, a potentially life-saving procedure to remove a section of the stomach after a gastric cancer diagnosis. 

Gastrointestinal Cancer Care Team

At UC San Diego Health, your cancer care is led by a multidisciplinary team of doctors who specialize in your type of cancer. Highly specialized multidisciplinary care is a hallmark of top-tier academic medical centers such as UC San Diego Health. For patients like you, it means you receive the highest level of care. Find a gastrointestinal cancer specialist.

Second Opinion Services

When you have a diagnosis as serious as cancer, you deserve a second opinion on your treatment options.

How to Get a Second Opinion

Clinical Trials

Advancing Cancer Care and Prevention

UC San Diego Health physicians are actively researching ways to improve cancer care. By joining a clinical trial, you may receive a new cancer treatment before it is available to the public. If your cancer has not responded to standard therapies, talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial could be right for you.

Patient & Family Support Services

At UC San Diego Health, your care goes beyond treating disease. It also includes supporting you and your loved ones emotionally throughout your cancer journey. Most of our support services are free.

Browse All Support Services