Planning treatment for stomach cancer
Stomach cancer can be treated using surgery, chemotherapy or less commonly radiotherapy.
The choice of treatment will depend on the position and size of the tumour and whether it has spread beyond the stomach, as well as your age and general health. Different treatments can be used alone or together.
How treatment is planned
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In most hospitals a team of specialists will talk to you about the treatment they feel is best for your situation. This multidisciplinary team (MDT) will include:
a surgeon who specialises in stomach and other gastrointestinal cancers
a medical oncologist, who is a chemotherapy specialist
a clinical oncologist, who is a radiotherapy and chemotherapy specialist
a radiologist, who analyses x-rays and scans
a pathologist, who advises on the type and grade of the cancer, and how far it has spread
a nurse specialist
The MDT may also include other healthcare professionals, such as a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, psychologist or counsellor.
If two treatments are equally effective for your type and stage of cancer, your doctors may offer you a choice of treatments. Sometimes people find it hard to make a decision. If you’re asked to make a choice, make sure you have enough information about the different options, what is involved and the possible side effects so you can decide on the right treatment for you.
You may find our information on Making treatment decisions helpful.
Remember to ask questions about any aspects you don’t understand or feel worried about. It may help to discuss the benefits and disadvantages of each option with your cancer specialist, nurse specialist or with our cancer support specialists.
If you have any questions about your treatment, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or nurse. It often helps to make a list of questions and to take a close relative or friend with you.
Benefits and disadvantages of treatment
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Treatment can be given for different reasons and the potential benefits will vary for each person.
Early-stage stomach cancer
In people with early-stage stomach cancer, surgery is often done with the aim of curing the cancer. Additional treatments may also be given to help reduce the risk of the cancer coming back.
Advanced stomach cancer
If the cancer is at a more advanced stage, treatment is usually given to control symptoms, improve your quality of life and help you to live for longer. However, for some people the treatment will have little effect upon the cancer and they will get the side effects without any of the benefit.
For more on planning your treatment, you may find it helpful to read our information on: