How is stomach cancer treated?

There are several approaches to treating stomach cancer. In many cases, surgery can be avoided.

In the early stages when the cancer is limited to the superficial (uppermost) layers of the stomach, the cancer can be removed through an upper endoscopy performed by a gastroenterologist. In this procedure (endoscopic submucosal dissection, or ESD), the tumor is dissected from the rest of the gastric wall and removed through the mouth.

Once the tumor invades beyond the superficial layers of the stomach, surgery will be required to remove the stomach and connect the esophagus (the tube through which food passes) to the small intestines to allow for digestion.

Radiation therapy uses high-powered beams of energy to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy uses chemicals to kill the cancer cells. These treatments are generally combined.

There are also several drugs to treat stomach cancer. Treatment depends on how severe the cancer is and is decided upon by a doctor after diagnosis.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/17/2019.

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