Treatment & Procedures

The treatment your doctors recommend for stomach cancer is based on information about the type of tumor you have and how far it has spread, which is reflected in the “stage” of the tumor. Stage 1 is used to characterize disease confined to the involved organ, and stage 4 indicates cancer that has spread from the affected organ to other parts of the body.

Once stomach cancer has been diagnosed and staged, your doctor may recommend one or more treatment options depending on your specific condition.


Surgery is a treatment for stomach cancer that may be used to remove the tumor, part or all of the stomach and nearby lymph nodes. The type of surgery depends on the location of your cancer and how much it has spread to the surrounding tissue. Surgery typically is not recommended for stage 4 stomach cancer.

Several surgical options are available.

  • In an endoscopic mucosal resection, the surgeon removes the cancer through a long, flexible tube (endoscope) passed down the throat and into the stomach. This approach is appropriate if your stomach cancer is found very early and has not spread.
  • Partial (subtotal) gastrectomy involves removal of the affected part of your stomach and sometimes part of the esophagus or small intestine, or nearby lymph nodes. 
  • In a total gastrectomy, the surgeon removes the entire stomach and connects the esophagus directly to the small intestine, fashioning a new stomach from intestinal tissue. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed, as well as the spleen and parts of the esophagus and small intestine.

Learn more about surgery, including the roles that different surgical approaches have in preventing, diagnosing and treating cancer. 

Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a specific area. It may be used before surgery to shrink the size of the tumor, or after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the stomach.  Radiation treatment is often combined with chemotherapy treatment.
Stomach cancer is usually treated with external-beam radiation therapy, which is radiation given from a machine outside the body. High levels of radiation are precisely aimed at a targeted area. Treatments are given in the hospital or in a clinic, usually five days a week over several weeks. Side effects may include fatigue, mild skin reactions, upset stomach and loose bowel movements, but typically end after treatment.

Learn more about the variety of innovative radiation therapies offered at Houston Methodist.

For stomach cancer, chemotherapy can be used with radiation therapy after surgery to help eliminate any remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy can also be given before surgery to shrink the tumor, providing a better chance for a successful surgery.  Chemotherapy may be used as the primary treatment for stomach cancer that has spread to other organs.

Chemotherapy drugs are usually given intravenously in a hospital outpatient unit or a doctor’s office, or in some cases they may be taken orally at home. You may also be given a combination of oral and intravenous chemotherapy. The drugs enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body, making it a useful treatment if the stomach cancer has spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

Learn more about chemotherapy treatment, including how it works within your body and what to expect while undergoing treatment.


Our physicians specialize in managing stomach cancer at the following convenient Houston Methodist Cancer Center locations.