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Treating Stomach (Gastric) Cancer

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Updated August 14, 2012

Four types of standard treatment are used:

Surgery

Surgery is a common treatment of all stages of gastric cancer. The following types of surgery may be used:

  • Subtotal gastrectomy: Removal of the part of the stomach that contains cancer, nearby lymph nodes, and parts of other tissues and organs near the tumor. The spleen may be removed. The spleen is an organ in the upper abdomen that filters the blood and removes old blood cells.
  • Total gastrectomy: Removal of the entire stomach, nearby lymph nodes, and parts of the esophagus, small intestine, and other tissues near the tumor. The spleen may be removed. The esophagus is connected to the small intestine so the patient can continue to eat and swallow.
If the tumor is blocking the opening to the stomach but the cancer cannot be completely removed by standard surgery, the following procedures may be used:
  • Endoluminal stent placement: A procedure to insert a stent (a thin, expandable tube) in order to keep a passage (such as arteries or the esophagus) open. For tumors blocking the opening to the stomach, surgery may be done to place a stent from the esophagus to the stomach to allow the patient to eat normally.
  • Endoscopic laser surgery: A procedure in which an endoscope (a thin, lighted tube) with a laser attached is inserted into the body. A laser is an intense beam of light that can be used as a knife.
  • Electrocautery: A procedure that uses an electrical current to create heat. This is sometimes used to remove lesions or control bleeding.

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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

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Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. 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.

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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.

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More information on stomach cancer

What is Stomach Cancer?
Symptoms of Stomach Cancer
Diagnosing Stomach Cancer
Stages of Stomach Cancer

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Information adapted from the National Cancer Institute

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Heartburn / GERD
  4. Cancer
  5. Stomach (Gastric) Cancer
  6. Stomach Cancer Treatment

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