Stomach cancer symptoms & treatments

Stomach cancer FAQs

Oncologist Mohamad (Bassam) Sonbol, M.D., answers the most frequently asked questions about stomach cancer.

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Hi. I"m Dr. Bassam Sonbol, an oncologist at Mayo Clinic, and I"m here to answer some of the important questions patients may have about stomach cancers.

Yes, they can be. People sometimes pass on DNA mutations lớn their kids that will put them at higher risk for having stomach cancers. Multiple things can raise suspicion that a stomach cancer is hereditary, such as having cancer at a younger age, having a history of other cancers or having a history of multiple cancers in the family.

I think it"s always advisable to get a second opinion from a specialized center that frequently treats stomach cancer, as these cancers are generally rare in the United States. Very frequently, the specialized center doctors can work with your local primary doctor as a team to lớn take care of you.

The answer is yes. But it depends on the staging and other factors. First, what"s meant by cure is to lớn get rid of the cancer completely and prevent it from coming back in the future. For gastric cancer that hasn"t traveled to a different organ, cure as possible. & it"s the main goal. An endoscopic procedure or surgery can achieve cure. Adding chemotherapy to surgery in some circumstances can also increase the chance of cure.

In patients who have metastatic disease, cure is rarely achieved. Therefore, the treatment goal is to lớn prolong life and improve unique of life. We know that systemic treatments, such as chemotherapy targeted therapies, và others, increase chất lượng of life for the majority of patients, as it controls the cancer, along with multiple symptoms caused by the cancer itself. In addition, science is advancing every day & some of the treatments we have now were not available the year before. And with some newer treatments, we are encountering improvement in the overall outcomes và in some circumstances, long remissions.

Be prepared for the visit, ask questions & keep communicating. Communication is important. Remember, if your doctor & the medical team does not hear from you, they assume that you"re doing well. Therefore, it is important lớn communicate your symptoms, concerns, và other factors related khổng lồ your care to lớn your medical team. Never hesitate khổng lồ ask your medical team any questions or concerns you have. Being informed makes all the difference. Thanks for your time & we wish you well.

Tests & procedures used khổng lồ diagnose and detect stomach cancer include:

Looking inside the stomach. khổng lồ look for signs of cancer, your health care provider might use a tiny camera lớn see inside your stomach. This procedure is called upper endoscopy. A thin tube with a tiny camera on the over is passed down the throat and into the stomach. Taking a sample of tissue for testing. If something that looks lượt thích cancer is found in your stomach, it might be removed for testing. This is called a biopsy. It can be done during an upper endoscopy. Special tools are passed down the tube to get the tissue sample. The sample is sent lớn a lab for testing.

Determining the stage of stomach cancer

Once you"re found lớn have stomach cancer, you might have other tests khổng lồ see if the cancer has spread. This information is used to lớn give the cancer a stage. The stage tells your provider how advanced your cancer is and about your prognosis. Tests and procedures used to lớn find the stage of stomach cancer include:

Blood tests. A blood kiểm tra can"t diagnose stomach cancer. Blood tests can give your provider clues about your health. For example, tests to lớn measure your liver health might show problems caused by stomach cancer that spreads to lớn the liver.

Another type of blood thử nghiệm looks for pieces of cancer cells in the blood. This is called a circulating tumor DNA test. It"s only used in certain situations for people with stomach cancer. For example, this chạy thử might be used if you have advanced cancer and can"t have a biopsy. Collecting pieces of cells from the blood can give your health care team information lớn help plan your treatment.

Stomach ultrasound. Ultrasound is an imaging demo that uses sound waves to make pictures. For stomach cancer, the pictures can show how far the cancer has grown into the stomach wall. To lớn get the pictures, a thin tube with a camera on the tip goes down the throat & into the stomach. A special ultrasound tool is used to make pictures of the stomach.

Ultrasound might be used lớn look at lymph nodes near the stomach. The images can help guide a needle lớn collect tissue from the lymph nodes. The tissue is tested in a lab lớn look for cancer cells.

Imaging tests. Imaging tests make pictures lớn help your care team look for signs that stomach cancer has spread. The pictures could show cancer cells in nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. Tests may include CT and positron emission tomography (PET). Surgery. Sometimes imaging tests don"t give a clear picture of your cancer, so surgery is needed to see inside the body. Surgery can look for cancer that has spread, which is also called metastasized cancer. Surgery might help your health care team make sure there are no small bits of cancer on the liver or in the belly.

Other tests may be used in certain situations.

Your health care team uses the information from these tests to lớn give your cancer a stage. The stages of stomach cancer are numbers from 0 lớn 4.

At stage 0, the cancer is small và only on the inside surface of the stomach. A stage 1 stomach cancer has grown into the inner layers of the stomach. In stage 2 and stage 3, the cancer grows deeper into the wall of the stomach. The cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes. At stage 4, the stomach cancer may have grown through the stomach and into nearby organs. Stage 4 includes cancers that have spread to other parts of the body. When cancer spreads, it"s called metastatic cancer. When stomach cancer metastasizes, it often goes lớn the lymph nodes or the liver. It can also go khổng lồ the lining around the organs in the belly, which is called the peritoneum.

Your health care team might give your cancer a new stage after your first treatment. There are separate staging systems for stomach cancer that can be used after surgery or after chemotherapy.

Understanding your prognosis

Your health care team uses your cancer"s stage khổng lồ understand your prognosis. The prognosis is how likely it is that the cancer will be cured. For stomach cancer, the prognosis for early-stage cancer is very good. As the stage gets higher, the chances of a cure get lower. Even when stomach cancer can"t be cured, treatments may control the cancer khổng lồ prolong your life và make you comfortable.

Things that can influence the prognosis for stomach cancer include:

The type of cancer The cancer"s stage Where the cancer is within the stomach Your overall health If the cancer is removed completely with surgery If the cancer responds to lớn treatment with chemotherapy or radiation therapy

If you"re concerned about your prognosis, talk about it with your provider. Ask about the seriousness of your cancer.

Detecting stomach cancer before it causes symptoms

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Sometimes tests are used lớn look for stomach cancer in people who don"t have symptoms. This is called stomach cancer screening. The goal of screening is to lớn detect stomach cancer when it"s small và more likely to lớn be cured.

In the United States, stomach cancer screening tests are only for people with a high risk of stomach cancer. Your risk could be high if stomach cancer runs in your family. You could have a high risk if you have a genetic syndrome that can cause stomach cancer. Examples include hereditary diffuse gastric cancer, Lynch syndrome, juvenile polyposis syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome & familial adenomatous polyposis.

In other parts of the world where stomach cancer is much more common, tests lớn detect stomach cancer are used more widely.

Upper endoscopy is the most common thử nghiệm used to lớn detect stomach cancer. Some countries use X-rays lớn detect stomach cancer.

Stomach cancer screening is an active area of cancer research. Scientists are studying blood tests and other ways lớn detect stomach cancer before it causes symptoms.

Care at Mayo Clinic

Our caring team of Mayo Clinic experts can help you with your stomach cancer-related health concernsStart Here


Treatment options for stomach cancer depend on the cancer"s location within the stomach & its stage. Your health care provider also thinks about your overall health & your preferences when making a treatment plan. Stomach cancer treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy and palliative care.


The goal of surgery for stomach cancer, which is also called gastric cancer, is lớn remove all of the cancer. For small stomach cancers, surgery might be the first treatment. Other treatments might be used first if the stomach cancer grows deeper into the stomach wall or spreads lớn the lymph nodes.

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Operations used to treat stomach cancer include:

Removing small cancers from the stomach lining. Very small cancers can be cut away from the inside lining of the stomach. To lớn remove the cancer, a tube is passed down the throat và into the stomach. Special cutting tools are passed through the tube khổng lồ cut out the cancer. This procedure is called an endoscopic mucosal resection. It might be an option for treating stage 1 cancer that"s growing on the inner lining of the stomach. Removing part of the stomach. This procedure is called a subtotal gastrectomy. The surgeon removes the part of the stomach affected by cancer & some of the healthy tissue around it. It might be an option if your stomach cancer is located in the part of the stomach nearest the small intestine. Removing the entire stomach. This procedure is called a total gastrectomy. It involves removing all of the stomach và some surrounding tissue. The surgeon connects the esophagus lớn the small intestine lớn allow food to lớn move through the digestive system. Total gastrectomy is a treatment for cancers in the part of the stomach that is closest lớn the esophagus. Removing lymph nodes to look for cancer. The surgeon may remove lymph nodes in your belly to kiểm tra them for cancer. Surgery lớn relieve symptoms. An operation khổng lồ remove part of the stomach may relieve symptoms of a growing cancer. This might be an option if the cancer is advanced and other treatments haven"t helped.

Small stage 1 stomach cancers often can be cut away from the inner lining of the stomach. But if the cancer grows into the muscle layer of the stomach wall, this might not be an option. Some stage 1 cancers may need surgery to remove all of or some of the stomach.

For stage 2 và stage 3 stomach cancers, surgery might not be the first treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy might be used first khổng lồ shrink the cancer. This might make it easier khổng lồ remove the cancer completely. Surgery often involves removing some or all of the stomach và also some lymph nodes.

If stage 4 stomach cancer grows through the stomach và into nearby organs, surgery might be an option. To remove all of the cancer, parts of the nearby organs might be removed, too. Other treatments might be used first lớn shrink the cancer. If a stage 4 cancer can"t be removed completely, surgery might help control symptoms.


Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses chemicals to lớn kill cancer cells. Types of chemotherapy include:

Chemotherapy that travels through your whole body. The most common type of chemotherapy involves medicines that travel through your whole body, killing cancer cells. This is called systemic chemotherapy. The medicines can be given through a vein or taken in pill form. Chemotherapy that only goes in the belly. This type of chemotherapy is called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC). HIPEC is done right after surgery. After the surgeon removes the stomach cancer, the chemotherapy medicines are put directly into the belly. The medicines are heated to lớn make them more effective. The chemotherapy is left in place for a set amount of time and then drained.

Chemotherapy might not be needed for stage 1 stomach cancer. It might not be needed if surgery removed all of the cancer và there"s a low risk of cancer coming back.

Chemotherapy is often used before surgery lớn treat stage 2 và stage 3 stomach cancers. Systemic chemotherapy might help shrink the cancer so that it"s easier lớn remove. Giving chemotherapy before surgery is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Systemic chemotherapy might be used after surgery if there"s a risk that some cancer cells were left behind. This risk might be higher if the cancer grows deep into the stomach wall or spreads khổng lồ the lymph nodes. Giving chemotherapy after surgery is called adjuvant chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy can be used alone or it can be combined with radiation therapy.

If surgery isn"t an option, systemic chemotherapy might be recommended instead. It might be used if the cancer is too advanced or if you"re not healthy enough lớn have surgery. Chemotherapy might help control cancer symptoms.

HIPEC is an experimental treatment that might be an option for stage 4 stomach cancer. It might be used if the cancer can"t be removed completely because it extends through the stomach & into nearby organs. The surgeon might remove as much of the cancer as possible. Then HIPEC helps khổng lồ kill any cancer cells that are left.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-powered beams of energy to kill cancer cells. The beams can come from X-rays, protons or other sources. During radiation therapy, you lie on a table while a machine gives the radiation treatment lớn precise points on your body.

Radiation therapy is often done at the same time as chemotherapy. Sometimes doctors gọi this chemoradiation.

Radiation therapy might not be needed for stage 1 stomach cancer. It might not be needed if surgery removed all of the cancer và there"s a low risk that the cancer will come back.

Radiation is sometimes used before surgery khổng lồ treat stage 2 and stage 3 stomach cancers. It can shrink the cancer so that it"s easier to remove. Giving radiation before surgery is called neoadjuvant radiation.

Radiation therapy might be used after surgery if the cancer can"t be removed completely. Giving radiation after surgery is called adjuvant radiation.

Radiation can help relieve stomach cancer symptoms if the cancer is advanced or surgery isn"t possible.

Targeted therapy

Targeted treatments use medicines that attack specific chemicals present within cancer cells. By blocking these chemicals, targeted treatments can cause cancer cells to die.

Your cancer cells are tested to see if targeted therapy is likely lớn work for you.

For stomach cancer, targeted therapy is often used with systemic chemotherapy. Targeted therapy is typically used for advanced stomach cancer. This might include stage 4 stomach cancer và cancer that comes back after treatment.


Immunotherapy is a treatment with medicine that helps your body"s immune system to kill cancer cells. Your immune system fights off diseases by attacking germs và other cells that shouldn"t be in your body. Cancer cells survive by hiding from the immune system. Immunotherapy helps the immune system cells find và kill the cancer cells.

Immunotherapy is sometimes used to lớn treat advanced cancer. This might include stage 4 stomach cancer or cancer that comes back after treatment.

Palliative care

Palliative care is a special type of health care that helps you feel better when you have a serious illness. If you have cancer, palliative care can help relieve pain và other symptoms. Palliative care is done by a team of health care providers. This can include doctors, nurses và other specially trained professionals. Their goal is lớn improve the chất lượng of life for you & your family.

Palliative care specialists work with you, your family and your care team lớn help you feel better. They provide an extra layer of tư vấn while you have cancer treatment. You can have palliative care at the same time as strong cancer treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

When palliative care is used along with all of the other appropriate treatments, people with cancer may feel better and live longer.