The stage at which your cancer is detected will determine which options are available for gastric cancer treatment. As long as the tumour is still contained within your stomach, it can usually be removed surgically. If the tumour has metastasised or spread beyond your stomach, gastric cancer treatment may not be able to eliminate it entirely. However, treatment is still available that can relieve your symptoms and slow down the cancer.
How Stomach Cancer Spreads
There are three possible routes by which a cancer can spread if it isn’t spotted and treated first. One way is simply to keep growing from its current location. A tumour in your stomach could grow out into the surrounding tissue, reaching organs such as your pancreas and small intestine. The other two routes can carry cancer cells to distant parts of your body. Cells that separate from the original tumour in your stomach can get into your lymphatic system or your circulation. These two transport systems carry things around your entire body, so the cancer cell could establish a new tumour anywhere.
Treating Metastatic Stomach Cancer
If your cancer is diagnosed early in stage III, when it has spread to nearby tissue and lymph nodes, it may still be treatable. A complete gastrectomy together with removal of the surrounding lymph nodes and oesophagus may be able to eliminate the cancer cells that have spread nearby. However, once the cancer has spread beyond this, it won’t be possible to find and destroy every cancer cell as they could be anywhere in your body. Metastatic gastric cancer treatment usually focuses on relieving your symptoms and slowing the spread of the cancer. Surgery can help if the tumour has created a blockage in your stomach. The tumour in your stomach may be removed surgically, a stent fitted to open a path, or a bypass created around the tumour. You may also be offered chemotherapy or radiotherapy to reduce the size of the tumours and slow the progress of the cancer.