Stomach Cancer Surgery
The type of surgery for stomach cancer depends mainly on where the cancer is located. The surgeon may remove the whole stomach or only the part that has the cancer.
You and your surgeon can talk about the types of surgery and which may be right for you:
- Partial (subtotal) gastrectomy for tumors at the lower part of the stomach: The surgeon removes the lower part of the stomach with the cancer. The surgeon attaches the remaining part of the stomach to the intestine. Nearby lymph nodes and other tissues may also be removed.
- Total gastrectomy for tumors at the upper part of the stomach: The surgeon removes the entire stomach, nearby lymph nodes, parts of the esophagus and small intestine, and other tissues near the tumor. Rarely, the spleen also may be removed. The surgeon then connects the esophagus directly to the small intestine.
The time it takes to heal after surgery is different for each person, and you may be in the hospital for a week or longer. You may have pain for the first few days. Medicine can help control your pain. Before surgery, you should discuss the plan for pain relief with your doctor or nurse. After surgery, your doctor can adjust the plan if you need more pain relief.
Many people who have stomach surgery feel tired or weak for a while. Your health care team will watch for signs of bleeding, infection, or other problems that may require treatment.
The surgery can also cause constipation or diarrhea. These symptoms usually can be controlled with diet changes and medicine. See the Nutrition section for information about eating after surgery.
You may want to ask your doctor these questions before having surgery:
- What kind of surgery do you recommend for me? Why?
- Will you remove lymph nodes? Will you remove other tissue? Why?
- How will I feel after surgery?
- Will I need a special diet?
- If I have pain, how will you control it?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- Am I likely to have eating problems?
- Will I have any long-term side effects?