Treatment of stomach cancer depends on:
- The patient's state of health
- The part of the stomach where the cancer is found
- The stage of the disease
There are several reasons for treatment by staging. These include:
The possibility that standard therapy might not affect a cure because of the stage of the cancer when it was found.
Standard treatments might have more side effects than desired for the person's state of health.
Treatment By Staging
Stage 0 - Treatment may be one of the following:
Biological therapy (also called biological response modifier, or BRM; and immunotherapy) uses the body's own immune system to destroy cancer cells.
Biological therapy is still experimental, but shows great promise. There are several different types of biological therapy for cancer:
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. There are two types of radiation therapy:
Chemotherapy is the use of specialized drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs may be in pill or capsule form, or they may be injected into a vein or muscle.
Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because when the drug enters the bloodstream, it travels throughout the body and can kill cancer cells outside the stomach. Chemotherapy drugs act either by destroying tumor cells or by preventing them from multiplying.
Surgery is the most common treatment for stomach cancer. The usual operation is called a gastrectomy. There are two types:
There are a variety of effective treatment options for stomach cancer. In general, treatment depends on:
- The size, location, and extent of the tumor.
- The stage of the disease when the cancer is found.
- The person's general health and other factors.
Because of these variables, treatment is individually designed for each person.
Treatment decisions are complex. So, it can be helpful to seek a second, or even a third opinion about the diagnosis and the treatment plan. Your doctor will not be insulted by this request, but will likely encourage it.
For stomach cancer, the following stages are used:
Stage 0: This stage is very early cancer. At this stage, cancer is found only in the innermost layer of the stomach wall.
Stage I: Stage I is slightly more advanced. There are two possible criteria of this stage:
If stomach cancer is found, tests will be done to find out if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body. The process of staging describes the extent and severity of cancer growth. Once the doctor knows the stage of the disease, treatment can be planned.
The first step in diagnosing stomach cancer is usually a thorough medical history and physical examination by the doctor.
If the history and/or examination indicate, the doctor will order laboratory blood tests and one or all of the following examinations:
Some of the symptoms of stomach cancer in the early stages are:
- Indigestion and stomach discomfort
- A bloated feeling after eating
- Mild nausea
- Loss of appetite
Stomach cancer can be very difficult to diagnose because in the early stages, the symptoms can be absent or very mild. The symptoms listed above can be caused by cancer, but also by other, less serious health problems such as a virus or an ulcer.
In more advanced stages of stomach cancer, symptoms can include: