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Treatment - Stomach cancer

Treatment for stomach cancer

Stomach cancer is often treatable, but it can be difficult to treat.

The treatment will depend on:

  • the type and size of the stomach cancer you have
  • where it is
  • if it has spread
  • your general health

It usually includes surgery and chemotherapy. It may also include radiotherapy, and treatment with targeted medicines.

The specialist care team looking after you will:

  • explain the treatments, benefits and side effects
  • work with you to create a treatment plan that is best for you
  • help you manage any side effects, including changes to your diet
  • help and support you during you recover

You'll have regular check-ups during and after any treatments. You may also have tests and scans.

If you have any symptoms or side effects that you are worried about, talk to your specialists. You do not need to wait for your next check-up.


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Your treatment will depend on if the cancer can be removed or not.

If the cancer cannot be removed, you may have surgery to help control some symptoms of stomach cancer.

Surgery to remove stomach cancer

If stomach cancer is found early, has not spread or has not spread far you may be able to have surgery to remove it.

Surgery will remove part or all of the stomach. They may also need to remove parts of other organs around the stomach.

Recovery from surgery to treat stomach cancer can take a long time. The specialist team looking after you will discuss all the benefits and side effects.

Surgery to help control the symptoms of stomach cancer

You may need surgery to relieve a blockage in the stomach. This helps food pass through your stomach more easily.

The aim of this surgery is to help improve your symptoms, not to cure the cancer.


Chemotherapy uses medicines to kill cancer cells.

You may have chemotherapy for stomach cancer:

  • before and after surgery to help make the cancer smaller
  • after surgery to help stop the cancer coming back
  • at the same time as other treatments to help make them more effective
  • to help control and improve the symptoms of advanced cancer or if the cancer cannot be removed by surgery – sometimes given alongside treatment with targeted medicines


Radiotherapy uses high-energy rays of radiation to kill cancer cells.

You may have radiotherapy for stomach cancer:

  • with chemotherapy (chemoradiotherapy) to help stop the cancer coming back
  • to help control and improve the symptoms for advanced cancer

Treatment with targeted medicines

Targeted cancer medicines aim to stop the cancer from growing.

You may have them with chemotherapy to treat advanced stomach cancer.

What happens if you’ve been told your cancer cannot be cured

If you have advanced stomach cancer, it might be very hard to treat. It may not be possible to cure the cancer.

If this is the case, the aim of your treatment will be to limit the cancer and its symptoms, and help you live longer.

Finding out the cancer cannot be cured can be very hard news to take in.

You will be referred to a special team of doctors and nurses called the palliative care team or symptom control team.

They will work with you to help manage your symptoms and make you feel more comfortable.

The clinical nurse specialist or palliative care team can also help you and your loved ones get any support you need.

Page last reviewed: 21 October 2019
Next review due: 21 October 2022