Stomach cancer is quite common in India, ranking fifth for men and seventh for women. It occurs when malignant cells form in the lining of the stomach. Also known as gastric cancer, it’s more prevalent in older adults. But there’s a global increase in stomach cancer in young adults before they turn 50. This presents unique challenges as the biology of their cancer can differ from that seen in older populations.

According to Dr. Sandeep Nayak, a certified oncologist in Bangalore:

“The nature of stomach cancer in young adults often means diagnosis occurs at a later stage and the type of cancer is more aggressive. This delay can be due to the subtlety of symptoms. It can also happen because healthcare providers are less suspicious when treating younger patients. It is all about identifying the warning signs and doing the right tests.”

Curious about what might be behind the rise in stomach cancer cases among young adults? Let’s dive into the possible causes.

Causes of Stomach Cancer in Young Adults

Understanding the causes of stomach cancer in young adults is crucial for early detection and treatment. Several factors contribute to the risk of developing this disease at a young age.



Approximately 10% of all cancers are attributed to genetic factors. Studies show that around 1 to 3% of gastric cancers may be hereditary. Mutations in the CDH1 gene, for example, lead to HDGC (hereditary diffuse gastric cancer). They cause changes in the cells lining the stomach, predisposing individuals to stomach cancer from a young age. Families with a history of stomach cancer should consider genetic counseling to assess their risk and discuss preventive measures. These familial cancers are more aggressive in nature.


Helicobacter pylori Infection (H. pylori)

This common stomach infection is a significant risk factor for stomach cancer at any age. It causes chronic inflammation of the stomach lining, leading to ulcers and, eventually, cancerous changes. Young adults infected with H. pylori require appropriate antibiotic treatment to reduce their risk of developing stomach cancer later in life.


Diets high in salty and smoked foods and low in fresh fruits and vegetables can increase stomach cancer risk. Young adults often consume fast or processed foods. Such foods contain carcinogens or promote conditions in the stomach that enhance cancer development. A balanced diet rich in antioxidants and fibers can reduce cancer risk.

Smoking and Alcohol

Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can damage the Smoking and Alcoholstomach lining. It is essential to counsel young adults on the risks associated with these lifestyle choices. They can contribute to the increased risk of developing various cancers, including:

    Environmental FactorsEnvironmental Factors

    Exposure to certain environmental toxins, such as asbestos and heavy metals, can also play a role. Workplaces lacking safety standards may expose young adults to these harmful substances, contributing to the risk of cancer. However, there is no strong proof for this association at present.

    Do you think you might be at risk of stomach cancer? Please consult a healthcare professional. Getting checked early can help in early detection and improve treatment outcomes.

    Recognizing symptoms early on can lead to prompt diagnosis and effective treatment. Let’s explore the different signs that may indicate stomach cancer.

    Symptoms of Stomach Cancer in Young Adults

    Symptoms of stomach cancer can be vague and often resemble less severe conditions. The symptoms depend on the location of the cancer inside the stomach.:

    Indigestion and Stomach Discomfort

    Chronic indigestion and stomach discomfort that do not improve with over-the-counter medications can be early signs of stomach cancer. These symptoms are often overlooked or attributed to less severe conditions like gastritis. The symptoms are not distinguishable from other gastric problems.

    Mild Nausea

    Mild Nausea

    Ongoing mild nausea, not linked to other known causes, can be an indication of stomach cancer. It might not always lead to vomiting but can significantly affect appetite and quality of life.

    Weight Loss

    Weight Loss

    Unexplained weight loss, without changes in diet or exercise routine, is a common symptom of many cancers, including stomach and lung cancer. This symptom is particularly significant when it’s rapid and severe.

    Bloating after Meals

    Bloating after Meals

    Persistent bloating after eating even small amounts of food can be a warning sign. It might indicate the stomach’s struggle to process and move food properly due to a tumor obstructing the gastric outlet.

    Loss of Appetite

    Loss of Appetite

    A significant and unexplained loss of appetite can indicate the stomach’s inability to hold and digest food. You must investigate it further, mainly if it’s sudden and accompanied by other symptoms. Loss of appetite is commonly linked to cancer of the lung, ovaries, and pancreas.



    Vomiting, especially if it includes blood, must not be ignored. It can occur as the cancer grows and causes obstruction or irritation in the stomach. Some patients may have difficulty is swallowing and vomiting if the cancer is located in the upper part of the stomach.



    Stomach cancer can cause chronic bleeding, which may not be visible. This can lead to anemia, characterized by fatigue and paleness.

    Have you noticed any persistent symptoms that have caught your attention? Please don’t take them lightly. Speak to a healthcare professional and consider getting screened.

    Are you concerned about the risks of stomach cancer in your 20s, 30s, or 40s? Let’s explore the specific challenges faced in stomach cancer by young adults.

    Challenges Faced in Stomach Cancer by Young Adults

    Young adults with stomach cancer face several challenges:

    Late Diagnosis

    The symptoms can be vague and easily mistaken for more common, less severe illnesses. Many individuals tend to dismiss symptoms as minor digestive complaints. This often leads to a late diagnosis when the cancer is more advanced and less responsive to treatment.

    Fertility and Family Planning

    Treatments for stomach cancer, such as chemotherapy can affect fertility. This is a significant concern for young adults who wish to have children in the future. It would be best if you discussed options like egg or sperm freezing before starting treatment.

    Psychological Impact

    A cancer diagnosis can be particularly stressful for young adults who are at a crucial stage in their personal and professional lives. Psychological support and counseling are critical to help them cope with the diagnosis and treatment process.

    It’s essential to take action now. Early action can significantly improve your treatment options and results.

    Treatments for Stomach Cancer

    Treatment for stomach cancer may involve:


    Surgery is the primary treatment option for stomach cancer. It focuses on removing the stomach tumor and adjacent tissues to prevent further spread. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, the procedure may involve:

    • partial gastrectomy – the removal of part of the stomach
    • total gastrectomy – the removal of the entire stomach

    “Surgery often provides the best opportunity for a cure,” explains Dr. Sandeep Nayak, a surgical oncologist in Bangalore. “It targets the cancerous cells directly and effectively. Most patients lead almost normal life after these procedures.”


    Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It’s often used before surgery to shrink the stomach tumors or after to eliminate remaining cancer cells. This improves the cure rate stomach cancer.


    Radiation Therapy

    Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to target and kill cancer cells. Doctors occasionally offer this for stomach cancer.


    Targeted Therapy

    Targeted therapy drugs attack specific pathways and weaknesses in cancer cells, such as proteins that control cell growth. This approach helps stop or slow the spread of cancer. Targeted therapy offers a more focused treatment approach and often fewer side effects.



    Immunotherapy uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. It has shown promise in treating certain cancers that are more aggressive or have not responded to other treatments. Doctors are increasingly using immunotherapy for cancers related to the stomach, kidney, cervix, and HPV-linked head and neck cancers, etc.

    Palliative Care:

    Palliative care aims to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients at any cancer stage. It is crucial for managing pain, nutritional needs, and other complications associated with cancer.


    Stomach cancer in young adults presents distinct characteristics and unique challenges. Young adults may mistakenly attribute serious signs to less severe health issues. They delay seeking medical advice, leading to late diagnoses with fewer and less effective treatment options.

    By raising awareness, we aim to empower young adults with the knowledge to recognize potential symptoms early. This encourages them to seek prompt medical evaluation. Early detection can significantly improve treatment outcomes, highlighting the need to take any concerning symptoms seriously, regardless of age.

    Are you or someone you know experiencing symptoms that could be related to stomach cancer? Don’t hesitate to consult a healthcare professional.

    As Dr. Sandeep Nayak, an experienced Oncologist in Bangalore, emphasizes:

    “Taking action now can make all the difference. Be proactive about your health and encourage others to do the same.”


    Is Stomach Cancer Curable?

    Stomach cancer is potentially curable if diagnosed early and treated effectively. The success of treatment depends on:

    • The stage of the cancer
    • the overall health of the patient
    • how well the cancer responds to treatment

    Can a CT Scan Detect Stomach Cancer?

    No. An endoscopy is needed for detecting stomach cancer. A CT scan can be instrumental in staging stomach cancer. It can help detect stomach cancer by providing detailed images of the stomach and surrounding tissues. It helps assess the tumor’s size, location, and whether it has spread to other body parts.

    What Causes Stomach Cancer in Young Adults?

    The causes of stomach cancer in young adults include:

    • genetic factors
    • Helicobacter pylori infection
    • dietary influences
    • exposure to environmental toxins
    • lifestyle choices such as smoking and alcohol use

    Is Acidity a Symptom of Cancer?

    Yes, Acidity, or acid reflux, is a common conditions and cannot be distinguished from stomach cancer. A healthcare provider should evaluate persistent or severe acid reflux. Severe acidity can lead to complications like Barrett’s esophagus, which increases the risk of developing  stomach and esophageal cancer.