Stomach cancer treatments include surgery and other options to slow disease progression, such as radiation, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. Treatment is most effective when stomach cancer is diagnosed early.

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Stomach cancer beings the stomach. Early stages can cause mild symptoms that are easily mistaken for other, less serious conditions. These symptoms can include:

  • indigestion
  • stomach discomfort
  • bloating
  • loss of appetite

As stomach cancer spreads, it can cause more severe symptoms such as vomiting, jaundice, unintentional weight loss, and a buildup of fluid in the stomach.

As is true with all cancers, stomach cancer is easiest to treat when it is diagnosed in the early stages.

Treatments for stomach cancer may include:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiation
  • immunotherapy
  • targeted therapy

Learn more about stomach cancer.

Stomach cancer treatment is most effective when stomach cancer is found early. Treatment is more difficult as cancer progresses.

In later stages, stomach cancer treatments can manage symptoms and slow down the progression of cancer, but typically are unable to cure the cancer. However, responses to treatment are individual and depend on a variety of factors, including overall health, age, and genetics.

Healthcare team for stomach cancer treatment

You’ll have a team of healthcare professionals working together to treat your stomach cancer. This will typically include doctors such as:

  • A gastroenterologist: This type of doctor specializes in conditions that affect your digestive system.
  • A surgical oncologist: Surgical oncologists use surgery to treat cancer.
  • A radiation oncologist: Radiation oncologists are specialists who treat cancer with radiation.
  • A medical oncologist: Medical oncologists use treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy to treat cancer.

It will likely also include other health professionals such as:

  • nurse practitioners
  • physician assistants
  • physical therapists
  • nurses
  • nutritional specialists
  • psychologists
  • social workers
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Surgery is one of the primary treatments for stomach cancer. It’s done to remove the tumor.

Often, stomach cancer is treated with a type of surgery called a gastrectomy. During a gastrectomy, all or part of your stomach will remove along with the tumor. You might also have nearby lymph nodes and tissues removed, and sometimes, additional organs, such as the spleen, might be removed, too.

Since all or part of your stomach will be removed, you’ll likely need the surgeon to change the way your digestive system moves food through your body. Common options include:

  • attaching your esophagus to your small intestine
  • placing a thin tube called a stent that creates a passage from the esophagus to the stomach or to the small intestine
  • connecting the stomach to a part of the small intestine called the jejunum

Chemotherapy uses strong medications to destroy cancer cells and stop their growth. It can be given through injection or swallowed as a capsule. You might have chemotherapy before surgery, after surgery, or as a treatment for advanced stomach cancer.

The exact number of chemotherapy cycles you have will depend on the chemotherapy medications your doctor prescribes and on how you respond to them.

Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses medications to find and attack specific cancer cells. It can help boost the effectiveness of treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation.

Genetic tests, called biomarker tests, can sometimes help doctors find the best target medications to treat your stomach cancer.

Immunotherapy is a treatment that works with your immune system and helps it to fight cancer more effectively. It’s often an option in later stages of stomach cancer and for stomach cancer that has come back.

Biomarker testing can sometimes help doctors decide if you’re a good candidate for immunotherapy.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be given before surgery, after surgery, or in later stages to help manage symptoms.

Radiation therapy can sometimes be given at the same time as chemotherapy so that both treatments can work together to destroy cancer cells. This is called chemoradiation.

The exact outlook for people with stomach cancer after treatment depends on several factors, including the stage of their stomach cancer at diagnosis, how well they responded to treatment, their overall health, and their age.

According to the National Cancer Institute, the overall 5-year survival rate for people with stomach cancer is 36%. When stomach cancer is found in the early stages, the 5-year survival rate is 75%. Stomach cancer that is late-stage and has spread throughout the body has a 5-year survival rate of 7%.

It’s important to remember that these statistics represent historic data. Cancer treatments are continuously improving, and it’s possible that current survival rates are higher than these numbers suggest. Additionally, your personal out is determined by individual factors and not guided by general statistics.

Your doctor can help you understand your treatment outlook.

Stomach cancer is a cancer that starts in the stomach and that causes symptoms that affect your digestive system. Treatment is easiest when stomach cancer is diagnosed in early stages, and typically includes surgery to remove the tumor.

All or part of the stomach is generally also removed during this surgery. Additional treatments can include chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Treatment effectiveness and outlook vary and can depend on factors such as stage at diagnosis, genetics, overall health, and age.