Treatment overview

The main treatments for stomach cancer are surgery and chemotherapy. Sometimes radiotherapy or targeted therapy treatments are used. The treatments can be used alone or in combination with each other. The treatment you have will depend on the stage of the cancer, your general health and personal preferences.


You may have surgery to try to cure the cancer or to control it for as long as possible. This is a major operation, so you need to be physically well enough to have it. The operation involves removing part of or all of the stomach and nearby lymph nodes. If the cancer has spread to tissue or organs nearby, the surgeon may remove part of these.

Sometimes, surgery is used to relieve the symptoms of the cancer, for example, if it is causing a blockage (obstruction).


Chemotherapy is an important treatment for stomach cancer. Doctors often give it before and after surgery to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back. It can also be given on its own when an operation isn’t possible.


Occasionally radiotherapy is given with chemotherapy (chemoradiation) after surgery. Doctors can also give radiotherapy to relieve symptoms if the cancer is advanced.

Targeted therapy

Sometimes a targeted therapy drug called trastuzumab (Herceptin®) is given with chemotherapy to treat stomach cancer that has spread. This isn’t suitable for everyone.

Symptom control

If the cancer has spread and you decide not to have chemotherapy, your doctors will give you treatment to control your symptoms. You’ll usually see doctors or nurses who specialise in symptom control (palliative or supportive care).

You can also see a symptom control specialist during treatment if there are any problems with controlling symptoms.

Back to Understanding your diagnosis

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