What is stomach cancer?
In Australia approximately 2,200 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer each year, with men being twice as likely as women to be diagnosed. Stomach cancer can occur at any age, but is more common in people over 60 years of age.
- Stomach pain
- Feeling bloated after eating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Unintentional weight loss
- Age (generally occurs in adults ages 60+)
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Pernicious anaemia (low red blood cell levels)
- Being overweight or obese
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and are concerned, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
Stomach Cancer Diagnosis
- Blood tests / Testing for blood in your stool
- Upper endoscopy
- Biopsy & biopsy testing
- CT Scan
- PET Scan
- Endoscopic ultrasound
- Staging laparoscopy
Stomach Cancer Treatment & Surgery
Once diagnosed, your doctor will discuss the best treatment options for your stomach cancer. Treatment options will depend on the size of the cancerous tumour, whether the cancer has spread, while considering your age, fitness and general overall health.
As with many cancer tumours, a combination of chemotherapy and surgery is often advised for stomach cancer. Frequently, chemotherapy is given before surgery for stomach cancers and if the tumour responds favourably, surgery is then performed. This is often followed by more chemotherapy depending on how the tumours appear pathologically following removal.
- Total gastrectomy – removal of the whole stomach.
- Partial (subtotal) gastrectomy – the lower part of the stomach is removed.
- Oesophagogastrectomy – the top part of the stomach and part of the oesophagus is removed.
- Wedge gastrectomy (only suitable for certain types of stomach cancer like GIST tumours) – a wedge of stomach is removed
A gastrectomy can be performed as open surgery or with minimally invasive surgery or keyhole surgery (robotically or laparoscopically).
Open Gastrectomy Surgery
Minimally invasive Gastrectomy
This form of gastrectomy surgery requires smaller incisions, resulting in fewer potential complications and faster recovery times for the patient. Hollow tubes are placed in the incisions, gas is used to inflate the abdomen to allow greater visibility and space, and surgical tools including a small camera are inserted into the tubes to perform the surgery. This may be done with the laparoscopic or robotic approach.