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Stomach Cancer

Hearing You Have Cancer Changes Everything

It’s a surprise. It’s a shock. It’s frightening. To hear you have stomach cancer isn’t something you’d ever expected. What is it? When did it start? How bad is it? Will I get through this? We understand it can be especially difficult when it’s stomach cancer because rarely are there symptoms in the beginning. Talk about a surprise.

Our cancer care team will work closely with you and your family to help you understand your condition and answer your questions. We’ll provide resources you can turn to for education and support. Most important, we’ll recommend a cancer care treatment plan that’s individual to your cancer care needs.

If you need guidance from navigating insurance issues to exploring your eligibility for clinical trials – we’ll be here for you. Every member of our cancer care team, including our expert gastric surgeons, oncologists and patient navigators, take personal interest in your cancer care and healing journey.

Stomach Cancer Basics Treatment and Procedures

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What is stomach cancer and what causes it?


    Cancer develops when cells mutate and grow out of control. Stomach cancer typically develops in the inner layer or mucosa of the stomach and, if it spreads, it tends to do so gradually to other stomach layers, and possibly beyond the stomach. Rarely are there symptoms in the early stages.

    Stomach cancer is also referred to as gastric cancer.

    There is no definitive cause for stomach cancer; however, infection in the stomach with bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) increases the risk for stomach cancer. Long-term infection with this germ in the stomach can cause inflammation and pre-cancerous changes to the mucosa, which is the inner layer of the stomach. H. pylori is also linked to some types of lymphoma of the stomach. Still, most people who carry this germ in their stomachs never get cancer. More information about what causes stomach cancer is available from the American Cancer Society.

  • Q: Does OhioHealth offer stomach cancer treatment?

    A: Yes, we treat stomach cancer. We provide stomach cancer treatment that can include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery or a combination. Your OhioHealth cancer care team will work closely with you to recommend a personal cancer care plan, taking into consideration the stage of your stomach cancer, your age, health condition and other variables that may be of importance.
  • Q: How serious is my stomach cancer diagnosis?

    A: It’s important to talk to your doctor about the seriousness of your stomach cancer diagnosis. We understand this is the biggest question for someone newly diagnosed with any cancer, but the answer you’re looking for is individual to you — just as it is individual to other cancer patients — and so cannot be generalized in an FAQ. Only your doctor and other members of your cancer care team can provide answers to this question, with the detail and explanations you’ll want and need. Make a list of questions to ask your doctor. Also, share with your doctor your fears and concerns. Ask for information about support groups, if you feel you need to share with others who have stomach cancer. And consider bringing a friend or family member with you to your doctor appointments so they can help you hear and remember the information your doctor shares with you.
  • Q: Is stomach cancer treatable?

    A: Stomach cancer is treatable. The stomach cancer treatment options and the outcome depend on the stage of the cancer. It also depends on your age and health. Your doctor can discuss the available treatment options with you, as well as expected results. Common treatments for stomach cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.
  • Q: What are the different stages of stomach cancer?


    Staging is the process of determining the extent of the cancer, whether or not it has spread within the layers of the stomach and/or outside of the stomach to other organs. Staging is important in determining the type of treatment most appropriate for the cancer.

    The National Cancer Institute describes the stages of stomach cancer as follows:

    Stage O: 
    The tumor is found only in the inner layer of the stomach. Stage O is also called carcinoma in situ.

    Stage I is one of the following:

    • The tumor has invaded only the submucosa. Cancer cells may be found in up to 6 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

    Stage II is one of the following:

    • The tumor has invaded only the submucosa. Cancer cells have spread to 7 to 15 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have spread to 1 to 6 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has penetrated the outer layer of the stomach. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or other organs.

    Stage III is one of the following:

    • The tumor has invaded the muscle layer or subserosa. Cancer cells have spread to 7 to 15 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has penetrated the outer layer. Cancer cells have spread to 1 to 15 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has invaded nearby organs, such as the liver, colon, or spleen. Cancer cells have not spread to lymph nodes or to distant organs.

    Stage IV is one of the following:

    • Cancer cells have spread to more than 15 lymph nodes.
    • Or, the tumor has invaded nearby organs and at least 1 lymph node.

    Or, cancer cells have spread to distant organs.

  • Q: What treatment options are available to me for stomach cancer, and how will they affect my daily life?


    Your cancer care team will assess your stomach cancer condition and determine the most appropriate option(s) for treating it. At OhioHealth, we offer the treatment for stomach cancer that includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

    Much will depend on the stage of your stomach cancer. Your cancer care team will talk you through what that means and how that affects or determines your treatment plan. They will also explain how the treatment will affect your daily life, during treatment and going forward.

    To learn more, turn to the National Cancer Institute’s information on stomach cancer treatment and also the American Cancer Society.

  • Q: Will surgery be part of my treatment for stomach cancer?


    Whether or not your treatment plan includes surgery depends on several factors, such as the size and location of the cancerous tumor, if it has spread, your general health and other matters your doctor will explore with you. Surgery to treat stomach cancer typically involves the surgeon removing a part of the stomach or the whole stomach. In each case, the surgeon redirects your body’s digestive process, using your esophagus and small intestine. For more detail, please read about surgery for stomach cancer at the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.

    Your doctor, as well as others on your OhioHealth Cancer Care Team, will work closely with you in determining the best treatment options for your cancer condition.

  • Q: What do I need to know about eating and nutrition during treatment for stomach cancer?

    A: It’s important to eat healthy during your treatment, getting the right balance of calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals for strength and healing. However, with stomach cancer treatment, especially if you’ve had all or part of your stomach removed, eating may be challenging at first. That’s why it’s good to work with a dietitian who can help you select the best foods for you during this time. Talk to your doctor or anyone on your cancer care team about any dietary issues you may be having. Ask them about OhioHealth dietitians, who can help you.
  • Q: Where can I find information to help me manage my diet and nutrition after stomach cancer treatment?


    Your cancer care team will teach you what you need to know about taking care of yourself after your treatment for stomach cancer, especially in regards to your diet. At OhioHealth, we have registered dieticians who can work with you on devising appealing, nutritional meal plans. They also can help you make changes in your eating habits, including the types of foods you eat, portion sizes and when you eat.

    Our dietitians can offer you the support and guidance you need, so you know just what to do.

  • Q: Where do I find more information on stomach cancer?

    A: We recommend you start with the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute for their comprehensive expertise.

Want more answers? Browse all of the OhioHealth cancer patient FAQs. General FAQ

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