Chemotherapy for stomach cancer may be given:
- before and after surgery (peri-operative chemotherapy)
- before surgery to shrink a cancer (neo-adjuvant chemotherapy)
- with radiotherapy to make it work better (chemoradiation)
- to control the cancer and improve symptoms (palliative chemotherapy).
When chemotherapy is used before and after surgery, it is called peri-operative chemotherapy. This treatment shrinks the tumour 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 the operation, and again after it.
Chemotherapy may be given before surgery to shrink a large cancer. This sometimes works well enough to make an operation possible.
Chemotherapy may be given in combination with radiotherapy (chemoradiation). It may be given before surgery (neo-adjuvant) or after surgery. It would be used after for people who didn’t have chemotherapy before surgery.
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®) as well as chemotherapy. You will have tests first to see if trastuzumab is a suitable treatment for you.