Gastric cancer

What is gastric cancer?

Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, refers to the development of abnormal cells in the lining of the stomach that have the ability to multiply and spread.1

Gastric cancer is the sixth most common cancer in Hong Kong, and the sixth leading cause of cancer death.2

Stages of gastric cancer

Signs and symptoms of gastric cancer

There are often no symptoms of gastric cancer during the early stages. However, as the disease progresses symptoms may include:

  • Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
  • Heartburn or indigestion (dyspepsia)
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding, which may appear in vomit or bowel motions
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Rapid weight loss


There are many different tests that are used to diagnose gastric cancer. This may include an upper endoscopy investigation, which looks at the digestive tract and detects any potentially cancerous areas, and a gastric tissue biopsy to analyse and confirm whether cancer is evident. A CT scan may be undertaken to identify any metastatic cancer in distant areas of the body.


Gastric cancer is difficult to cure, unless found at an early stage, as early gastric cancer doesn’t cause many symptoms and tends to be diagnosed when it has advanced.

Treatment for gastric cancer may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Surgery remains the only curative treatment for gastric cancer, where areas of the stomach and lymphatic tissue are removed. Chemotherapy can also be used to reduce the size of tumours prior to surgery, to decrease the risk of recurrence and for palliative patients to remove obstruction.1


For a full list of references, click here.
  1. Cancer Council Australia. (2019). Stomach cancer. Retrieved on 19 November 2019 from
  2. Centre for Health Protection. (2019). Stomach Cancer. Retrieved on 19 November 2019 from

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