There are several surgical procedures that might be used to treat stomach (gastric) cancer, depending on the size, location and spread of the tumor. The surgery that is used, along with the patient’s age and overall health, will impact recovery time. For example, some patients undergo surgery to remove the entire stomach (total gastrectomy) – a procedure that will likely require a longer recovery period and more complex postoperative care than a partial gastrectomy, which involves removing only a portion of the stomach and can sometimes be performed endoscopically.
With this said, any type of stomach cancer surgery is a significant and complex operation. Many patients who undergo a partial gastrectomy remain in the hospital for around three to five days following the procedure, while a total gastrectomy may require an inpatient stay of a week or so. Once discharged, most patients need to rest as much as possible and avoid strenuous activities for several weeks.
What to expect after stomach cancer surgery
Carefully adhering to your physician’s individualized guidance following stomach cancer surgery is key to a successful recovery. There are multiple side effects and complications that could arise after surgery, so be sure to promptly report any concerns that you may have. In general, here’s what you can expect during your recovery period:
- Weight loss – You may need to avoid consuming food or drink for a few days after surgery while incisions in the stomach or digestive tract heal. Once healed, it may still be difficult to eat without occasional heartburn, indigestion or nausea.
- Diet changes – You’ll likely need to eat smaller, more frequent meals since stomach resection can cause food to enter the digestive tract too quickly.
- Vitamin supplements – Removing the stomach makes nutrient absorption more difficult, so your physician may prescribe oral or injectable supplements to help you avoid vitamin deficiencies.
Moffitt’s approach to stomach cancer surgery
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program includes renowned and highly experienced surgical oncologists who utilize the latest advances in robotic techniques to help minimize recovery periods and complications. Moffitt oncologists also collaborate with dietitians, rehabilitation specialists and other supportive care professionals to help patients navigate the unique challenges of living with stomach cancer.