Can Stomach Ulcers Lead to Stomach Cancer? The cause is still a medical mystery but each year more than 20,000 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer. Health experts say there could be a link between stomach cancer and stomach ulcers. Dr. Mark Bloomston, surgical oncologist on staff at Lee Memorial Health System, says stomach ulcers affect roughly 4 million people each year. It usually starts off as a burning pain in the upper abdomen. “Pain is always a big red flag for us. Anytime anybody has pain, particularly upper abdominal pain that may or may not be related to what you’re eating that’s certainly a red flag for us.” While the most common risk factors for stomach ulcers are family history, smoking and large amounts of caffeine, he says stress may also play a role. “There is an association with a type of personality where the typical type A personality of high revving, high stress, high active patients may have a higher risk of ulcers.” Dr. Bloomston says if a patient has an ulcer that doesn’t respond to treatment it could be a red flag. Patients with stomach ulcers experience similar symptoms to those with stomach cancer, such as stomach pain and difficulty eating. While it’s unclear what causes stomach cancer, health experts say there’s a link in the bacteria found in ulcers. “There can be an association with ulcers in that there’s an association in the bacteria that causes ulcers,” said Dr. Bloomston. If a patient has repeat ulcers, health experts may want to do an upper endoscopy to find out why. “There are other causes of ulcers that may not have anything to do with the stomach at all. You may have a tumor in the pancreas that’s making the body secrete too much acid in the stomach,” said Dr. Bloomston. If a patient suspects that have an ulcer or possibly stomach cancer it’s important they see their doctor. View More Health Matters video segments at Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Visit