Our Treatment Approach to Stomach Cancer

A patient’s chances of recovery as well as medical decisions about the most promising treatment options, depend on the specific type of stomach cancer, the stage of the cancer (whether it is found only in the stomach or has spread to other places in the body), as well as the patient’s overall health. Stomach cancers are frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they may be more difficult to cure.
 
At City of Hope, our multidisciplinary approach to treating gastric cancer is designed to enhance the evaluation and treatment of patients at all stages of the disease. Care is provided by the departments of Surgery, Medical Oncology, Gastroenterology and  Radiation Oncology working together to achieve the best possible outcomes.
 

Treatment of gastric cancer often requires the removal of affected stomach tissue. This surgical procedure, called a gastrectomy, may be partial or total, depending on the location of the tumor. Lymph nodes around the stomach may also be removed to reduce the risk of cancer cells spreading to other parts of the body.
 
At City of Hope, our surgeons specialize in minimally invasive procedures performed by laparoscopy. These procedures use small keyhole incisions rather than the large incisions used in traditional open surgery. Results with laparoscopy are comparable to open surgery, but often with less pain, reduced loss of blood, faster recovery, shorter hospital stays and a lower risk of post-operative complications.
 
City of Hope surgeons are also highly skilled in robotic-assisted surgery, using the most advanced da Vinci S Surgical System. A surgeon directs and controls the movements of a specially designed robot, equipped with a camera and miniature surgical tools. At the same time, a sophisticated, computerized imaging system provides real-time three-dimensional views of the surgical area, with better visualization than can be achieved with the surgeon’s eye alone.
 
Chemotherapy and Radioimmunotherapy
Chemotherapy refers to drugs that are given either intravenously or orally to treat cancer. Chemotherapy may be combined with other treatments, and is often used to combat cancers that have spread beyond the stomach.
 
At City of Hope, chemotherapy may be combined with radiation therapy or with radioimmunotherapy (treatment with a radioactive substance linked to an antibody that can attack the tumor and destroy it).
 

Radiation is a form of energy that has long been used to treat many kinds of cancers. In stomach cancer, radiation may be given to relieve pain, in combination with chemotherapy, or after surgery to minimize the risk of recurrence. Treatments in which beams of energy are directed at the tumor from an outside source are referred to as external beam radiation.
 
At City of Hope, external beam radiation treatments may include:
 
  • Three-dimensional conformal therapy
  • Helical TomoTherapy - Considered the most advanced radiation therapy available, helical TomoTherapy allows doctors to target and destroy cancer cells very precisely while sparing healthy tissues nearby.
    City of Hope was the first in the western U.S. to provide treatment for stomach cancer using this therapy.