The primary treatments for stomach cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. Sometimes, radiotherapy and targeted therapies are also used. The treatments can be used by themselves or in combination with others. The type of treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer, your overall health, and your personal preferences.
You may have surgery as an attempt to cure the cancer or to control it for the longest time possible. This is a very major operation, which is why you will have to be as physically well as possible. The operation involves eliminating part or all of the stomach as well as the nearby lymph nodes. If the cancer has spread to other nearby tissues or organs, the surgeon may remove part of them.
Sometimes, surgery is used to relieve the symptoms of cancer.
Chemotherapy is an important treatment for stomach cancer. It is often given before and after surgery to lower the risk of the cancer returning. It can also be given by itself when operating isn't possible.
Sometimes, radiotherapy is given alongside chemotherapy after surgery. Doctors can also give radiotherapy to relieve the symptoms of advanced cancer.
Sometimes, a targeted therapy drug called trastuzumab is given together with chemotherapy to treat stomach cancer that has spread. This is not appropriate for everyone.
HOW IS THE TREATMENT PLANNED?
Your treatment will be planned by a group of specialists who will meet to discuss and agree upon the best possible treatment plan for you.
This multidisciplinary team will include:
- A surgeon (who specializes in your type of cancer)
- A medical oncologist
- A radiotherapy oncologist
- Radiologists who help analyze x-rays and scans.
- Pathologists who advise on the type and extent of the cancer.
Other health professionals may be included, such as a palliative care doctor (who is specialized in controlling symptoms), a nutritionist, a physical therapist, and occupational therapists, and a psychologist.
BENEFITS AND DRAWBACKS OF THE TREATMENT
You may feel afraid of cancer treatment due to the side effects it can have. Although treatments for esophageal cancer can produce adverse effects, you will be given help to control them.
The treatment can be given for various reasons and the possible benefits vary from person to person and from situation to situation. Your doctor can tell you whether the primary aim of the treatment is to cure the cancer, control it for some time, or reduce the symptoms and improve quality of life. They can also tell you about the possible side effects of the treatment and whether these are temporary or permanent.
Surgery is used to treat stomach cancer. Most people will also require chemotherapy. This treatment can be intensive.
Your surgeon will explain the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment and the degree of success it may have.
If the cancer is very advanced and has spread to other parts of the body such as the liver or lungs, the treatment will only control the cancer for a time. It can also help to reduce the symptoms and prolong or improve quality of life. However, for some people in this situation, the treatment will not have any effect at all on the cancer and will produce side effects without providing any benefit.