Stomach Cancer

Gastric cancer treatment at Scripps

Scripps Health offers options for the treatment of gastric cancers.

Gastric cancer treatment at Scripps

Scripps Health’s multidisciplinary teams fight gastric (stomach) cancer in San Diego using advanced treatments and therapies, including robot-assisted surgery.

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Nationally recognized care for stomach cancer

With a national reputation for excellence and a neighborhood presence across San Diego, Scripps is unique among local health-care providers.

Our medical staffs and clinicians have dedicated their careers to helping patients and families fight all forms of cancer, including cancer of the stomach and gastrointestinal area.

U.S. News & World Report ranked Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and Scripps Green Hospital among the best in the nation for gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery.

Detection and diagnosis of stomach cancer

Tests and procedures used to diagnose gastric cancer can include a physical exam and review of family history, as well as one or more of the following:

  • Upper endoscopy is a procedure in which a physician uses an endoscope to examine the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and first section of the small intestine. The procedure is also known as an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) combines an endoscopy with ultrasound to obtain images of the area in question.
  • Upper gastrointestinal (GI) series is an X-ray imaging test to allow physicians to look at the inner lining of the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine.
  • Biopsy is the collection of a small part of the suspicious tissue for testing and further examination in the lab by a pathologist.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scan is a form of X-ray imaging that captures images of the body from different angles. The images are combined to create detailed cross-sectional views of organs, bones and blood vessels.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan uses a glucose that contains a radioactive substance (called a “tracer”) to look for cancer. Cancer cells absorb large amounts of radioactive sugar, so if cancer is present in other areas of the body, it can appear as areas of radioactivity that are captured with a special camera. A PET scan is combined with a CT scan.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) relies on a powerful magnet, radio waves and advanced digital technology to provide detailed images of organs, bone and soft tissue.

Treatment of gastric cancer

Treatment plans depend on the stage of the gastric cancer, patient health and other factors. Treatment options may include:

Stomach cancer surgery

  • Endoscopic resection can be performed for some stomach cancers that have not spread to lymph nodes, if they are detected very early. It does not require an incision to access the tumor(s).
  • Subtotal (partial) gastrectomy is a surgery for cancer confined to the lower stomach or sometimes to the upper stomach. The surgery may involve removal of part of the esophagus, first part of the small intestine, fatty lining in the lower abdomen, nearby lymph nodes and potentially parts of other nearby organs and the spleen. The remaining stomach and esophagus are then reconnected.
  • Total gastrectomy is the removal of the entire stomach, nearby lymph nodes and fatty lining in the lower abdomen. It may also involve removal of the spleen and parts of the esophagus, intestines, pancreas and nearby organs. The esophagus is reattached to the small intestine.

A subtotal gastrectomy or total gastrectomy may be performed as an open surgery, laparoscopic surgery or robot-assisted surgery, depending on the size of tumor(s) and treatment plan.

Palliative surgery for late-stage gastric cancer

Late-stage gastric cancer may be managed through surgery to help prevent or relieve symptoms or complications and increase quality of life. The most common palliative surgeries are:

  • Subtotal gastrectomy, which can help with bleeding, pain or stomach blockage.
  • Gastric bypass, which can help ensure that food is able to move from the stomach to the small intestine.
  • Endoscopic tumor ablation, which is designed to vaporize parts of a tumor through use of a laser beam.
  • Stent placement, which may be performed to enable the passage of food from the stomach to the small intestine.
  • Feeding tube, which insertion through the skin of the abdomen into the stomach for nutrition can be performed if other procedures to clear food obstructions are not feasible.

Radiation therapy for stomach cancer

Scripps has the most comprehensive radiation therapy offerings in San Diego for gastric cancer.

Chemotherapy and chemoradiotherapy for stomach cancer

Chemotherapy for stomach cancer can be provided before a surgery with the goal of shrinking the tumor, or after a surgery with the aim of preventing any recurrence. Chemotherapy may also be combined with radiation therapy — an approach known as chemoradiation.

Chemotherapy may be the primary treatment for gastric cancer when a patient cannot tolerate surgery or has late-stage disease that cannot be surgically removed.

Support services

To enhance the care of people with stomach cancer, Scripps Health also offers the following services

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