Why a gastrectomy is carried out 

A gastrectomy can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including obesity and some types of cancer.

There are several types of gastrectomy that may be used, depending on the condition being treated.

Stomach cancer

A gastrectomy is one of the most effective ways of curing stomach cancer or slowing down the rate at which it spreads.

In most cases of stomach cancer, tumours are too large to be cured with non-surgical methods, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy (although these treatments are sometimes used to help make surgery more successful).

However, removing some or all of the stomach can prevent cancer cells spreading to other parts of the body.

If you have small tumours in the lower part of your stomach, you may only need a partial gastrectomy. However, if you have larger tumours in the middle of your stomach, or if cancer cells have spread to nearby lymph nodes (small glands that are part of the immune system), it may be necessary to remove all of your stomach.

A gastrectomy isn't usually performed if the cancer has spread to other organs, such as the liver or lungs.

It may also be recommended if you develop a non-cancerous (benign) tumour in your stomach. Even though the tumour isn't cancerous, there's a risk it could become cancerous if it's not removed.

Oesophageal cancer

An oesophagogastrectomy may be used to treat oesophageal cancer (cancer of the gullet) when it's thought that the cancer may have spread from the oesophagus to the top of the stomach.


A sleeve gastrectomy can be used to treat people with potentially life-threatening obesity.

Potentially life-threatening obesity is defined as:

Surgery involves reducing the size of the stomach by up to 75%, which means you can no longer eat large amounts of food, resulting in weight loss.

Sleeve gastrectomy is sometimes used when people are too obese to safely undergo other types of weight loss surgery, such as a gastric bypass.

Obesity surgery is usually only available on the NHS if your obesity puts you at risk of developing life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease, and you've previously made significant efforts to lose weight with other methods.

Read more about weight loss surgery.

Stomach ulcers

A gastrectomy used to be a common treatment for stomach ulcers (peptic ulcers). Nowadays, other less invasive treatments are usually used instead.

A gastrectomy is only used to treat stomach ulcers in very rare cases, where they fail to respond to other treatments.

Understanding BMI results in adults

Find out how to calculate your body mass index (BMI) and interpret the results correctly.

Media last reviewed: 20/01/2016

Next review due: 20/01/2018

Page last reviewed: 06/01/2015

Next review due: 31/12/2017