Our Treatment Approach
At MD Anderson, we customize your stomach cancer treatment to ensure the highest chances for successful treatment while focusing on your quality of life. Our treatments include targeted and gene therapies, laser therapy and minimally invasive surgery.
Since treating stomach cancer often involves more than one type of therapy, your personalized course of treatment is planned by a group of experts that may include oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons. This team approach – coupled with extraordinary skill and the latest technology – means you receive the best possible care with the least impact on your body.
MD Anderson's skilled surgeons and specialized procedures to treat stomach cancer are focused on helping you retain as much of the stomach as possible. However, if surgical removal of part or all of the stomach is unavoidable, we have the skill and staff to help you cope.
Stomach Cancer Treatments
If you are diagnosed with stomach cancer, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including the type and stage of the cancer, the location of the tumor and your general health.
One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.
Surgery is the most common treatment for stomach cancer, many times with chemotherapy and radiation. If all three therapies are needed, MD Anderson’s standard approach is to give chemotherapy and radiation before surgery. This method usually is more successful and better tolerated.
Surgery for stomach cancer is delicate and challenging, and it requires special expertise. Studies have shown that patients do better when their surgeons have a high level of experience, and MD Anderson surgeons are among the most experienced in the country.
Surgical techniques for stomach cancer may include:
Endoscopic mucosal resection: An endoscope is inserted down the throat and into the stomach, allowing doctors to remove certain types of early, non-invasive stomach cancers.
Subtotal (partial) gastrectomy: The cancerous part of the stomach, nearby lymph nodes (tissues that filter infection and disease) and parts of other organs near the tumor are surgically removed.
Total gastrectomy: The entire stomach, nearby lymph nodes and sometimes the spleen, parts of the esophagus, intestines, pancreas and other organs where the cancer has spread, are removed. The esophagus is reconnected to the small intestine you can continue to eat and swallow.
During the surgery, the surgeon forms a new “stomach” from part of the intestine. After surgery, you may:
- Have a feeding tube that goes directly into your small intestine to be sure you receive needed nutrients
- Need to eat smaller, more frequent meals and avoid sugar
- Have abdominal discomfort and diarrhea
- Need to take vitamin supplements as pills or shots (injections)
If a stomach cancer tumor is blocking the stomach but cannot be removed completely, surgery may be done to help you eat normally. Procedures include:
- Endoluminal stent placement: A thin, expandable tube is placed between the stomach and esophagus or small intestine to keep the passageway open.
- Endoluminal laser therapy: An endoscope with a laser is inserted into the body. The laser cuts the tumor.
Chemotherapy: At MD Anderson, chemotherapy for stomach cancer often is given before surgery to shrink the tumor. MD Anderson offers the most advanced chemotherapy regimens with the fewest side effects.
Radiation therapy: We use the most precise methods of radiation therapy, targeting the stomach cancer while limiting damage to surrounding areas.
Targeted therapies: These agents are specially designed to treat stomach cancer’s specific genetic and molecular profile to help your body fight the disease.
Gene therapy: We have the expertise to examine each tumor carefully to determine gene-expression profiles, which then guide us toward the most effective, gentlest treatment targeted to your specific cancer. Gene therapy is a personalized medicine approach that sets us above and beyond most cancer centers and allows us to attack the specific causes of each stomach cancer.
Our Stomach Cancer Clinical Trials
Since MD Anderson is one of the nation’s leading research centers, we’re able to offer clinical trials (research studies) of new treatments for every type and stage of stomach cancer.