Stomach cancer

Treatment

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) experts offer comprehensive care for stomach cancer, including advanced treatments and new options available only through clinical studies.

A diagnosis of cancer can feel overwhelming. We have an experienced, compassionate team ready to help. 

Stomach cancer expertise at SCCA

Everything you need is here

We have surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists who specialize in stomach cancer; the most advanced diagnostic, treatment and recovery programs; and extensive support. 

Innovative stomach cancer therapies

SCCA patients have access to advanced therapies being explored in clinical studies for stomach cancer conducted here and at our founding organizations Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and UW Medicine.

Stomach cancer treatment tailored to you

We view treatment as a collaborative effort. Your SCCA doctors will explain all your options and recommend a treatment plan to get you the best results based on the type, stage and location of your cancer and your health, lifestyle and preferences.

Team-based approach

Your personal team includes more than your stomach cancer doctors and nurses. Additional experts who specialize in treating people with cancer will be involved if you need them — experts like a dietitian, pharmacist, social worker or palliative care professional.

Learn More About Supportive Care Services

Ongoing care and support

During and after treatment, your team continues to provide follow-up care on a schedule tailored to you. The SCCA Survivorship Clinic is also here to help you live your healthiest life as a stomach cancer survivor.

Treatment types

Treatment looks different for different people depending on your diagnosis. We tailor your treatment plan to you. Learn more about the treatment types offered at SCCA. 

Surgery

Your SCCA team may recommend surgery to remove part or all of your stomach (gastrectomy):

  • To cure your cancer by removing all of the tumor
  • To relieve symptoms or prevent complications of your tumor, such as bleeding or blockage in your stomach

People whose cancer has spread outside of their stomach typically do not have surgery because surgery cannot remove the cancer completely. If your cancer has spread, you have other options to try to control it. 

Stomach cancer surgery for SCCA patients is performed by top surgeons at UW Center for Esophageal & Gastric Surgery. Here, the same experts take care of people with cancer in their stomach, esophagus or the place where these structures meet (gastroesophageal junction). 

Whichever procedure you need, your SCCA team will work with you to ensure you receive the right care before, during and after, as you recover.

Subtotal (or partial) gastrectomy

Your surgeon removes the part of your stomach that contains cancer and parts of other tissues or organs that may be involved, such as part of your esophagus or the first part of your small intestine (the duodenum).

Total gastrectomy

Your surgeon removes your entire stomach and possibly parts of your esophagus, small intestine and other tissues near the tumor. The surgeon will connect your remaining esophagus to your intestine. After the operation, you will need to change the way you eat, such as eating smaller amounts more often.

Minimally invasive surgery

Many SCCA patients who need surgery for stomach cancer can have minimally invasive surgery, done with a fiber-optic camera and small instruments through incisions only one-quarter to one-half inch long. The benefits include less pain, faster recovery and fewer problems than with longer incisions. Our surgeons are among the country’s leading experts in minimally invasive surgery in the abdomen (laparoscopy).

Surgery

Your SCCA team may recommend surgery to remove part or all of your stomach (gastrectomy).

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be part of your treatment:

  • Before surgery to shrink your tumor
  • After surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent or delay cancer coming back 
  • As your main treatment to help control cancer if you don’t have surgery

Usually chemotherapy medicines are given by infusion into a vein. Then they enter your bloodstream and travel throughout your body. You may have chemo alone or in combination with radiation therapy (chemoradiation) because chemotherapy medicines can make cancer cells more sensitive to radiation. 

Your SCCA team will talk with you about the specific medicines we recommend for you, how you’ll receive them, your treatment schedule and what to expect. We’ll also explain how to take the best possible care of yourself during treatment and after, and we’ll connect you with medical and support resources throughout SCCA.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy may be part of your treatment.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be used to kill very small remnants of the cancer that cannot be seen or that were not removed during surgery. 

Studies have shown that using a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy medicines can delay or prevent cancer recurrence after surgery and may help patients live longer. Radiation therapy is also useful for relieving pain. 

Two main types of radiation therapy are used for stomach cancer: 

  • External-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) using X-rays 
  • Proton therapy, a unique form of EBRT that targets protons at tumors

Proton therapy may significantly limit radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue near the stomach, such as the bowel, liver, kidneys and spinal cord. The SCCA Proton Therapy Center is the only facility in a seven-state region to offer this treatment. Learn more about proton therapy for stomach cancer.

If your treatment involves radiation therapy, your radiation oncologist will explain the type that we recommend for you, determine the dosage and schedule for your treatments and help you prevent or manage any side effects.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be used to kill very small remnants of the cancer that cannot be seen or that were not removed during surgery. 

Cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (CRS-HIPEC)

This treatment is for people with stomach cancer that has spread to the abdominal lining (peritoneum). Cancer that has spread here is called peritoneal carcinomatosis, or peritoneal cancer.

CRS-HIPEC may be able to control advanced disease while also giving you good quality of life. It combines two parts in one operation:

  • A surgery to remove all the cancer that surgeons can see
  • Chemotherapy, in liquid form, that is warmed and then put into your abdomen to kill any cancer cells left behind after surgery

SCCA has an experienced team that provides CRS-HIPEC.

Cytoreductive surgery and hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (CRS-HIPEC)

This treatment is for people with stomach cancer that has spread to the abdominal lining (peritoneum). Cancer that has spread here is called peritoneal carcinomatosis, or peritoneal cancer.