What Is Involved in Stomach Cancer Surgery?

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  • Written By: Steve R.
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 29 February 2020
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Surgery is performed as a form of treatment for many patients with stomach cancer. Depending on the cancer’s severity, stomach cancer surgery may involve the removal of a portion of the stomach or the entire stomach. A major operation, stomach cancer surgery may involve a hospital stay of a week or more. After surgery, a person may experience complications, such as constipation, but will be able to resume eating normally.

Annually more than 20,000 Americans are identified with stomach cancer, which spreads from the inner lining and moves outward. Removal of a portion of the stomach, sometimes referred to as partial gastrectomy or subtotal gastrectomy, involves removing the section of the stomach that contains cancer. Generally, a partial gastrectomy is performed if the cancer is located at the lower part of a patient’s stomach. The procedure leaves the valve between the esophagus and stomach. A patient will be left with a scar across his or her abdomen.

When the cancer is found in the center of the stomach, a patient will need the entire stomach taken out. This stomach cancer surgery is called total gastrectomy. The procedure involves joining the esophagus with the bowel. A patient will be left with a vertical scar dividing his or her abdomen.


Depending on the severity of the cancer, it is possible that cancerous cells separated from the main cancer of the stomach. A surgeon will remove the lymph nodes around the cancer cells that are taken out. This helps to lower the risk of cancer returning. The more lymph nodes that are removed, the better the chance there is for the cancer of not recurring.

In cases when cancer has advanced beyond the stomach into the abdomen, a procedure called hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemoperfusion may be performed. This surgery combines removing the cancer with chemotherapy. After the cancer cells are taken out, chemotherapy is applied to the abdominal region for more than an hour.

After stomach cancer surgery, a patient will often need to take food intravenously. It is not unusual for a patient to experience constipation, diarrhea, or indigestion while recovering. An infection and bleeding are also possible after surgery. Complications can be kept minimal through dietary changes and medicine.

During recovery, a patient may also experience cramping, nausea, and bloating. Typically, these difficulties transpire because a patient eats too fast. Consuming smaller portions and avoiding sweets often helps to alleviate the discomfort. An individual who had part of his or her stomach removed will eventually notice the remainder of his stomach has expanded allowing for greater food consumption. A person who experienced removal of his or her entire stomach may take longer to eat normally and will need to take B12 for the remainder of his or her life to avoid anemia.



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