Gastric (Stomach) Cancer

The stomach is part of the digestive system and it connects the esophagus to the small intestine.

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, can develop in any part of the stomach. It can spread throughout the stomach and to other organs such as the small intestines, lymph nodes, liver, pancreas and colon.

If health care providers think you may have gastric cancer, they will do a full exam and ask you questions about your health. They also may order tests like:

  • Endoscopy: This uses a tiny camera to see inside your stomach. A thin tube containing a tiny camera is passed down your throat and into your stomach. Your doctor can look for signs of cancer. If any areas are found, a piece of tissue can be collected for analysis (biopsy) and will be sent to the lab for further testing.
  • Imaging tests: Used to look for stomach cancer using computerized tomography (CT) scans and a special type of X-ray exam called a barium swallow.

If cancer if found, it is then "staged" to help plan for treatment. This stage is based on:

  • Size and location of the tumour
  • Whether cancer cells are in the lymph nodes
  • Whether cancer cells are in other parts of the body

The stage of gastric cancer will guide your treatment plan

Our doctors and researchers look for the best combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy to determine the most optimal approach for each patient.

  • Surgery is the most common treatment of gastric cancer. The surgeon can remove part of the stomach (gastrectomy) or the entire stomach. Lymph nodes near the tumour are generally removed during surgery so that they can be checked for cancer cells.
  • Radiation, the use of high energy X-rays to kill cancer cells, can be used before or after surgery.
  • Chemotherapy, the use of medications to kill cancer cells that have gone to others places in the body, can be used before or after surgery.

Clinical trials: Research studies that help doctors and researchers find ways to improve treatments and the quality of life for people living with a disease, may also considered when treating gastric (stomach) cancer.

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