Stomach cancer surgery may be recommended in conjunction with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or molecular targeted therapy, to address gastric cancer. To determine whether a patient is a surgical candidate, several key factors will be considered, including the type, size, location, grade and stage of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and general health.
Surgical options for stomach cancer
If a tumor is determined to be removable (resectable), a surgeon may recommend one of the following types of stomach cancer surgery.
Endoscopic mucosal resection
Endoscopic resection is most commonly used for early-stage stomach cancers with a low chance for metastasis to the lymph nodes. This procedure is done using an endoscope – a long tube with a camera on the end – which is passed down the throat into the stomach. Small, intricate surgical tools can be passed through the endoscope to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue.
This procedure is used when the cancer is located in only part of the stomach. Only part of the stomach is removed during this procedure, leaving the unaffected portion of the stomach to be reattached to make eating easier following surgery. Sometimes part of the esophagus or small intestine may be removed, as well as nearby lymph nodes and possibly other organs.
This procedure is recommended if the cancer has spread throughout the stomach (it is sometimes necessary is the cancer is in just part of the stomach, such as when it is in the upper part of the stomach near the esophagus). The difference between this procedure and a partial gastrectomy is that this procedure involves the removal of the entire stomach. The end of the esophagus is connected to the small intestine to allow for food passage.
Hyperthermic (heated) intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC)
A surgical approach that can be used to treat tumors that have spread inside the abdominal cavity – known as peritoneal disease. HIPEC is administered in a single session that takes place immediately after the surgical procedure is completed and allows for a higher concentration of the drug to reach the tumor.
Surgical options for unresectable stomach cancer
Alternatively, if a nonremovable tumor is causing symptoms of blocking the stomach and inhibiting digestion, a surgeon may recommend one of the following types of stomach cancer surgery.
With this procedure, a stent is placed between the stomach and small intestine, or between the stomach and the esophagus. A stent is a thin, hollow tube that is used to keep the passageway to the stomach open to allow the passage of food.
Endoscopic tumor ablation
A surgeon can use an endoscope (a long tube with a camera on the end) to vaporize part of a stomach tumor using a focused laser beam.
How long does it take to recover from stomach cancer surgery?
Recovering from stomach cancer surgery often takes a few months, as the digestive system needs time to heal. Depending on whether the patient had a partial gastrectomy or total gastrectomy, the patient will spend about a week in the hospital following the surgery and then spend a few months recovering at home. It may take a while for the digestive system to heal and the patient will be on a strict diet, which may lead to weight loss.
Why choose Moffitt for stomach cancer surgery?
Patients who undergo stomach cancer surgery at Moffitt Cancer Center are the focus of a multispecialty team of world-class surgeons and other cancer experts. Our talented tumor board collaboratively discusses the patient’s case on a weekly basis and refines treatment as necessary to ensure the highest level of individualized care. We understand that gastric cancer can have a significant impact on every aspect of a patient’s life, and we are committed to doing everything possible to help our patients cope and adjust.
Additionally, because stomach cancer surgery is highly complex and specialized, a patient’s greatest chance for a successful outcome is with a surgeon who has extensive experience and refined skills. Moffitt treats a high number of gastric cancer patients. As a result, our surgeons perform many intricate procedures each year and achieve better outcomes than most other cancer centers. Moffitt’s scientists and clinicians have pioneered many improvements in stomach cancer treatment, and every day we gain ground in finding a cure.