Surgery for Stomach Cancer

Minimally Invasive Approach

At Scott & White, the majority of operations are performed with minimally invasive techniques. Benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Better cosmetic result
  • Quicker recovery times, allowing you to:
    • Return to your daily routine sooner
    • Begin future treatment sooner
  • Shorter hospital stay
  • Less pain
  • Less blood loss
  • Lower risk of infection
  • Fewer complications

Not all patients are candidates for a minimally invasive approach. Factors affecting the decision to use minimally invasive techniques include:

  • Tumor size, stage or location
  • Patient obesity and health
  • Prior surgeries

Your physician team may recommend the surgical removal of all or part of your stomach. Your team may recommend other treatments in addition to surgery. At Scott & White, we use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible and appropriate, based on your condition.

At Scott & White, treatment goals for stomach cancer generally are centered on stomach-preserving treatments. Our philosophy is to preserve as much of your stomach as possible.

Surgical Procedures

Your operation may be performed using one of the following methods:

  • A traditional open approach
  • Traditional laparoscopic surgery

Your physician will discuss which option is best for you.

Endoscopic Mucosal Resection

For very early-stage stomach cancer, your physician may recommend a nonsurgical procedure called endoscopic mucosal resection. In this minimally invasive procedure, your physician will place a very small high-definition camera attached to a thin tube (endoscope) through your mouth and down into your stomach. Using instruments passed through the scope, the tumor can be removed from inside your stomach.

Subtotal Gastrectomy

In this surgical procedure, your surgical oncologist will remove your tumor, adjacent lymph nodes and part of your stomach. Your surgeon will reattach the remainder of your stomach to your small intestine.

Total Gastrectomy

In this surgical procedure, your surgical oncologist will remove your tumor, lymph nodes and entire stomach. Your surgeon will connect your esophagus directly to your small intestine. You’ll be able to eat only small quantities of food at a time initially following this surgery, but you will adapt over time and eat relatively normally.

Special Note Regarding Gastrectomies

Surgery to remove all or part of your stomach is a major surgical operation. You will stay in the hospital a week or more and need a month or more of recovery at home.

As with all operations, there are some risks. With gastrectomies, you may have additional side effects, including “dumping syndrome”:

  • Difficulty digesting food
  • Cramps
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Dizziness

You may also need supplemental vitamin B12, as you may no longer have the ability to absorb it through your stomach.

Your dietitian on your Integrated Care Team will be instrumental in helping you adjust your diet and return to feeling normal again.

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