Chemotherapy for stomach cancer may be given:
- before and after surgery to remove the cancer
- before surgery to shrink a cancer that’s too large to remove – this sometimes works well enough to make an operation possible
- occasionally, in combination with radiotherapy (chemoradiation), after surgery – this is for people who didn’t have chemotherapy before surgery and is normally given as part of a clinical trial
- to help control the cancer and improve symptoms if an operation to remove it isn’t possible.
The most common use of chemotherapy with surgery is perioperative chemotherapy. This shrinks the cancer to make surgery more effective and reduces the chance of cancer coming back. This treatment is usually given as three cycles of chemotherapy over nine weeks before your operation, and again after it.
If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (advanced cancer), chemotherapy is the main treatment. It can help you to live longer and reduce symptoms. You may be given the chemotherapy for up to six months. Some people have a targeted therapy drug called trastuzumab (Herceptin®) with chemotherapy.