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Types of Peptic Ulcers - Topic Overview

There are two different types of peptic ulcers. They are:

  • Gastric ulcers, which form in the lining of the stomach.
  • Duodenal ulcers, which form in the upper small intestine.

Both types of peptic ulcers are most commonly caused either by infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteriaHelicobacter pyloriH. pylori or by frequent use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

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The symptoms of gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers are similar, except for when pain occurs.

  • Pain from a gastric ulcer often occurs when food is still in the stomach, shortly after eating.
  • Pain from a duodenal ulcer often occurs when the stomach is empty, several hours after eating, and may improve after eating. Pain also may wake you in the middle of the night.

Symptoms alone cannot be used to distinguish a gastric ulcer from a duodenal ulcer. Tests such as an endoscopy or an upper gastrointestinal (UGI) series may need to be used to find out the location of an ulcer.

Gastric ulcers often heal more slowly than duodenal ulcers. A gastric ulcer that does not respond to treatment could be cancer. Your doctor will most likely recommend a biopsy of a gastric ulcer before beginning treatment. The biopsy will make sure there is no cancer hiding in the ulcer.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 15, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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