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Treatments for stomach cancer
If you have stomach cancer, your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. It will be based on your health and specific information about the cancer. When deciding which treatments to offer for stomach cancer, your healthcare team will consider:
- stage of the cancer
- location of the tumour in the stomach
- HER2 (ERBB2) status
- your overall health
You may be offered the following treatments for stomach cancer.
Surgery is often used to treat stomach cancer. The type of surgery you have depends mainly on the size and location of the tumour.
Endoscopic mucosal resection may be done to treat early stomach cancer.
Laparoscopic staging and exam is done to see if cancer has spread from the stomach to other parts of the abdomen, such as the liver or pancreas.
Limited surgical resection removes a section of the stomach wall containing the tumour along with a health margin around the tumour to treat early stomach cancer.
Gastrectomy is the most common surgery to treat stomach cancer. A gastrectomy is the surgical removal of all or part of the stomach through an incision in the abdomen.
Lymph node dissection is often done along with a gastrectomy to remove lymph nodes around the stomach.
Palliative surgery may be done to relieve the symptoms of advanced stomach cancer such as bleeding, pain or not being able to eat. Palliative surgery may include stomach bypass surgery (to change the flow of food or fluids around a stomach tumour that is blocking the stomach or esophagus), a stent or feeding tube placement or an endoscopic tumour ablation (laser surgery given with the aid of an endoscope).
Chemotherapy may be used to treat stomach cancer at any stage. Radiation therapy may be given at the same time as chemotherapy (chemoradiation).
Radiation therapy may be used to treat stomach cancer at any stage. The type of radiation therapy used most often is external beam radiation therapy. Chemotherapy may be given at the same time as radiation therapy (chemoradiation).
Trastuzumab (Herceptin) and ramucirumab (Cyramza) are targeted therapy drugs used to treat advanced, metastatic or recurrent stomach cancer.
If you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment
You may want to consider a type of care to make you feel better rather than treat the cancer itself. This may be because the cancer treatments don’t work anymore, they’re not likely to improve your condition or they may cause side effects that are hard to cope with. There may also be other reasons why you can’t have or don’t want cancer treatment.
Talk to your healthcare team. They can help you choose care and treatment for advanced cancer.
Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. You will need to have regular follow-up visits, especially in the first 2 years after treatment is finished. These visits allow your healthcare team to monitor your progress and recovery from treatment.
Some clinical trials in Canada are open to people with stomach cancer. Clinical trials look at new and better ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.
Questions to ask about treatment
To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about treatment.
A thin, tube-like instrument with a light and lens used to examine or treat organs or structures in the body.
An endoscope can be flexible or rigid. It may have a tool to remove tissue for examination. Specialized endoscopes may have tools designed to examine or treat specific organs or structures in the body.
Specialized endoscopes are named for the organ or structure they are used to examine or treat.
Taking action against all cancers
The latest Canadian Cancer Statistics report found that of all newly diagnosed cancers in 2017, half are expected to be lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Learn what you can do to reduce the burden of cancer.