Stomach Cancer

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Treating Stomach Cancer TOPICS

How is stomach cancer treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don’t hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information

Once your cancer has been diagnosed and staged, there is a lot to think about before you and your doctors choose a treatment plan. You may feel that you must make a decision quickly, but it is important to give yourself time to absorb the information you have just learned. Ask your cancer care team questions. You can find some good questions to ask in the section “What should you ask your doctor about stomach cancer?

The main treatments for stomach cancer are:

Often the best approach uses 2 or more of these treatment methods.

You will want to weigh the benefits of each treatment against the possible risks and side effects. Your treatment options depend on many factors. The location and the stage (extent of spread) of the tumor are very important. In choosing your treatment plan, you and your cancer care team will also take your age, general state of health, and personal preferences into account.

It is important to have a team of doctors with different specialties involved in your care before plans for treating your stomach cancer are made. Most likely, your team will include:

  • A gastroenterologist: a doctor who specializes in treatment of diseases of the digestive system.
  • A surgical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with surgery.
  • A medical oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with medicines such as chemotherapy.
  • A radiation oncologist: a doctor who treats cancer with radiation therapy.

Many other specialists may be involved in your care as well, including nurse practitioners, nurses, nutrition specialists, social workers, and other health professionals.

It is important that you understand the goal of your treatment — whether it is to try to cure your cancer or to keep the cancer under control or relieve symptoms — before starting treatment. If the goal of your treatment is a cure, you will also receive treatment to relieve symptoms and side effects. If a cure is not possible, treatment is aimed at keeping the cancer under control for as long as possible and relieving symptoms, such as trouble eating, pain, or bleeding.

If time permits, you may want to get a second opinion about your treatment options. A second opinion can provide you with more information and help you feel more confident about the treatment plan that you choose.

The next few sections describe the different types of treatment for stomach cancer. This is followed by a discussion of the most common treatment options based on the extent of the cancer.

Last Medical Review: 05/20/2014
Last Revised: 03/16/2015