How is stomach cancer treated?

Doctor and patient

On this page:

Surgery

Surgery is the main treatment for stomach cancer. It aims to remove the part of the stomach containing the tumour. Surgery can also be done to relieve symptoms. There are different ways of doing stomach cancer surgery. Read more about stomach cancer surgery.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy alone is unlikely to cure stomach cancer. It can be used:

  • Before surgery to shrink the tumour.
  • After surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
  • To control or improve your symptoms and give you a better quality of life.

Your specialist nurse will give you a list of the chemotherapy drugs you will receive and explain the side-effects. Read more about chemotherapy.

Targeted therapies

These drugs can target specific features of cancer cells to destroy them or work to block the growth of cancer cells. Your medical team will tell you if there is a targeted therapy suitable to treat your cancer.  For example, trastuzumab may help people with advanced stomach cancer that is helped to grow by a protein called HER2. Read more about targeted therapies.

External radiotherapy

This uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. It can be given with chemotherapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells left behind, to help stop the cancer coming back. With gastro-oesophageal cancer (GOJ), radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be given to shrink the tumour before surgery.

Radiotherapy can also help to control the symptoms of advanced cancer.  Read more about radiotherapy.

Will I get side-effects?

The type of side-effects you might get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health. Eating problems are common. You may also feel very tired (fatigue) or you may have pain after surgery or if your cancer is advanced.

Your specialist nurse will discuss possible side-effects with you before your treatment. You can also read about the different treatments to find out about possible side-effects.

Treating metastatic (advanced) stomach cancer

Metastatic or secondary stomach cancer means the cancer has spread beyond the stomach.

If you have metastatic stomach cancer, your doctor will aim to slow down the growth of the cancer and relieve any symptoms you have. Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. You may be suitable for a clinical trial. You may also have treatment to manage any symptoms from your cancer. This is called symptom control or palliative care. 

Read more about metastatic cancer.

If you have any questions about your treatment you can also call our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 to speak to a cancer nurse in confidence.

For more information

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