The most common treatment options for stomach cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and targeted therapy. Sometimes, multiple treatment options are combined based on the staging of the stomach cancer in the patient. Cures are difficult for stomach cancer, as detection often doesn't occur until advanced stages, reports Cancer.net.
Surgery involves removing the tumor and the surrounding tissue, according to Cancer.net. If the cancer is still at an early stage, sometimes doctors suggest endoscopic mucosal resection, using an endoscope to remove the tumor. If cancer has spread to the outer stomach wall, surgery is likely to be combined with chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. Surgery can be as extreme as a total gastrectomy, which involves a complete removal of the stomach.
Chemotherapy utilizes drugs to kill cancer cells, generally by removing their ability to divide and grow. An intravenous tube can be inserted into a vein to administer chemotherapy, but it also comes in capsule or pill form. A schedule of chemotherapy lasts for a prescribed number of cycles over a certain period of time, notes Cancer.net.
Radiation therapy uses X-rays and other particles at high energy to kill cancer cells, as Cancer.net states. With stomach cancer, patients tend to receive external-beam radiation therapy from a machine located outside the body. Targeted therapy focuses on the genes, tissue environment or proteins associated with the specific cancer, with the purpose of hindering development and spread of cancerous cells. For example, a patient with advanced stomach cancer whose tumor has excess HER2 protein might benefit from getting trastuzumab in concert with chemotherapy.