Stomach Cancer Treatments & Surgeries
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At Houston Methodist Cancer Center, our highly skilled medical, radiation and surgical oncologists offer the most cutting-edge stomach cancer treatments available. We provide advanced cancer care at seven locations across the Greater Houston area, allowing you or your loved one to receive stomach cancer treatment close to home or work.
In addition to treatment options that are already standard of care, we provide access to clinical trials that offer potentially promising cancer treatments not available to the general public.
Depending on the type and stage of stomach cancer, as well as any specific features, your care team may use one or more of the following stomach cancer treatment options:
Endoscopic Mucosal Resection of Stomach Cancer
During endoscopic resection of stomach cancer, the surgical oncologist uses a long, flexible tube (endoscope) that is passed down the throat and into the stomach to remove the cancer. No incisions are needed for this type of cancer removal, but it's only used if your stomach cancer is found very early and has not spread.
Gastrectomy Surgery for Stomach Cancer
Surgery is a stomach cancer treatment that may be used to remove the tumor, part or all of the stomach and nearby lymph nodes. It typically is not recommended for stage 4 stomach cancer.
The type of surgery depends on the location of your cancer and how much it has spread to the surrounding tissue.
A partial, or subtotal, gastrectomy involves the removal of the affected part of your stomach and sometimes part of the esophagus or first part of the small intestine. Nearby lymph nodes may also be removed.
During 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. The surgeon may also remove nearby lymph nodes, as well as the spleen and parts of the esophagus and small intestine.
Radiation Therapy for Stomach Cancer
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a specific area. It may be used before a gastrectomy to shrink the size of the stomach cancer, or after the surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells in the stomach. Radiation treatment is often combined with chemotherapy.
Stomach cancer is usually treated with external-beam radiation therapy, which is radiation produced by a machine outside the body. High levels of radiation are precisely aimed at a targeted area. Radiation treatments for stomach cancer 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.
Chemotherapy for Stomach Cancer
Chemotherapy for stomach cancer can be used after gastrectomy with radiation therapy to help eliminate any remaining cancer cells. It can also be given before the surgery to shrink the stomach cancer, providing a better chance for a successful resection.
If stomach cancer has spread to other organs, chemotherapy may be used as the primary treatment.
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.