A gastrectomy is an operation to remove a part of the stomach or the whole of the stomach. The operation you have for stomach cancer depends on the position of the cancer and its size.
For stomach cancer, the operation you have depends on where in the stomach the cancer is and its size. You may have a total gastrectomy, where all of the stomach is removed or a partial gastrectomy, where part of the stomach is removed. Lymph nodes and some nearby organs may also be removed.
We have more information about this on our surgery page. Your doctor will explain what surgery is best for you.
There are things you can do before and after surgery to help you prepare and recover.
It may be possible to keep part of the stomach, depending on the position and size of the cancer. This is called a partial gastrectomy. Having this operation makes it easier to eat after surgery.
If the cancer is in the lower stomach near the small bowel
The surgeon removes the lower part of the stomach. They then reconnect the remaining part of the stomach to the small bowel.
The stomach is usually connected lower down the small bowel than it was before. This is to stop bile (a digestive fluid) and pancreatic juice from going back up the oesophagus. The juices drain from the gallbladder further down into the small bowel. The surgeon sews up the part of the small bowel (duodenum) that used to attach to the lower stomach.
The surgeon removes the whole stomach. They usually do this operation if the cancer is in the upper or middle part of the stomach.
When the surgeon removes the stomach, they connect a part of the small bowel to the oesophagus. They connect it slightly lower down than where the stomach used to join. This is to stop bile (a digestive fluid) and pancreatic juice from going back up the oesophagus. The juices drain from the gallbladder further down into the small bowel. The surgeon sews up the part of the small bowel (duodenum) that used to attach to the lower stomach.
The surgeon does this operation through a few small cuts in the tummy (abdomen), rather than one large opening. It is sometimes called keyhole surgery. The surgeon puts a long, fine tube with a camera and a light on the end through the cuts to see and work inside the body.
For a total gastrectomy, the surgeon makes a few small cuts and one larger cut. They remove the stomach through the larger cut.