Treatment of Gastric Cancer

The choice of treatment depends mainly on the size and location of the tumor, the stage of disease, and general health. Treatment for stomach cancer may involve:

Surgery

The type of surgery for stomach cancer depends mainly on where the cancer is located. Following are the types of gastric surgery:
  • Partial (subtotal) gastrectomy for tumors at the lower part of the stomach: The surgeon removes the lower part of the stomach with the cancer. The surgeon attaches the remaining part of the stomach to the intestine. Nearby lymph nodes and other tissues may also be removed.
  • Total gastrectomy for tumors at the upper part of the stomach: The surgeon removes the entire stomach, nearby lymph nodes, parts of the esophagus and small intestine, and other tissues near the tumor. Rarely, the spleen also may be removed. The surgeon then connects the esophagus directly to the small intestine.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be given before or after surgery. After surgery, radiation therapy may be given along with chemotherapy. The drugs that treat stomach cancer are usually given through a vein. Chemotherapy kills fast-growing cancer cells, but the drugs can also harm normal cells that divide rapidly such as blood cells, cells in hair roots and those lining the digestive tract. Some drugs used for stomach cancer also may cause a skin rash, hearing loss, and tingling or numbness in your hands and feet.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

Chemoradiation

Chemoradiation combines chemotherapy and radiation therapy to increase the effects of both. Chemoradiation treatment given after surgery to increase the chances of a cure is called adjuvant therapy. If it is given before surgery, it is called neoadjuvant therapy.

Treatment Options for Recurrent Gastric Cancer

Treatment of recurrent gastric cancer may include the following:
  • Chemotherapy as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.
  • Endoluminal laser therapy or endoluminal stent placement to relieve a blockage in the stomach.
  • Radiation therapies as palliative therapy to stop bleeding, relieve pain, or shrink a tumor that is blocking the stomach.
  • Surgery as palliative therapy to stop bleeding or shrink a tumor that is blocking the stomach.
  • A clinical trial of new combinations of chemotherapy as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.

Nutrition and Follow-up Care

Nutrition is an important part of your treatment for stomach cancer. You need the right amount of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals to maintain your strength and to heal. A registered dietitian can help you plan a diet that will meet your nutrition needs. A plan that describes the type and amount of food to eat before and after surgery can help you prevent weight loss and discomfort with eating. You’ll need regular checkups after treatment for stomach cancer. Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed. If you have any health problems between checkups, you should contact your doctor. Checkups may include a physical exam, blood tests, x-rays, CT scans, endoscopy, or other tests. Contact us to request an appointment with one of the oncologists at Diablo Valley Oncology discuss the treatment options available to treat your stomach cancer.