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Chemotherapy for stomach cancer


Chemotherapy for stomach cancer

In highly selective cases, chemotherapy may be given before the patient undergoes surgery. This is called neoadjuvant therapy. For example, if you have few cancerous lymph nodes and the disease has not spread to the liver or other organs, your medical oncologist may consider administering stomach cancer chemotherapy prior to surgery. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy may help shrink the tumor. Radiation may also be used in combination with chemotherapy as a neoadjuvant therapy.

Chemotherapy treatment following stomach cancer surgery is known as adjuvant therapy. It may be used along with radiation treatment. Also known as chemoradiation, patients receive both forms of treatment within the same time period. Adjuvant therapy can help destroy stomach cancer cells that remain after surgery.

Treating recurrent stomach cancer

Because stomach cancer is often found in stage III or IV of the disease, recurrence is common. Treatments for recurrent disease tend to be the same as treatments for stage IV stomach cancer. If you have recurrent stomach cancer, your medical oncologist will consider several factors before making a treatment recommendation, including:

  • What chemotherapy drugs did you receive in the past?
  • How were those drugs delivered?
  • How well did you respond to the chemotherapy treatment?
  • Did you receive radiation treatment? If so, how did you respond to the radiation treatment?
  • What is your nutritional status?

Tumor molecular profiling for stomach cancer

What is chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs designed to slow or stop the growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells in the body. It may be used:

  • As a primary treatment to destroy cancer cells
  • Before another treatment to shrink a tumor
  • After another treatment to destroy any remaining cancer cells
  • To relieve symptoms of advanced cancer

At Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), our medical oncologists are experienced in delivering targeted, individualized chemotherapy options while also proactively managing side effects.

Chemotherapy delivery methods

Some chemotherapy delivery methods include:

  • Orally (by mouth as a pill or liquid)
  • Intravenously (by infusion into a vein)  
  • Topically (as a cream on the skin)
  • Injection
  • Direct placement (via a lumbar puncture or device placed under the scalp)

When chemotherapy drugs travel through the bloodstream to reach cells throughout the body, it is called systemic chemotherapy. When chemotherapy drugs are directed to a specific area of the body, it is called regional chemotherapy.

Experienced care team

For most of our patients, a medical oncologist serves as their primary doctor. Our medical oncologists specialize in diagnosing cancer and delivering chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy and/or hormone therapy. They will work closely with you and the rest of your care team to discuss chemotherapy options based on your individual needs.

Individualized treatment approach

When you arrive at the hospital, your medical oncologist will review your medical history and perform a full diagnostic evaluation, then present you with a treatment plan based on your specific diagnosis.

Chemotherapy is an important part of treatment for many of our patients. Our physicians use leading treatment protocols and practice evidence-based medicine. In some cases, we may use innovative delivery methods to treat certain types of cancer.

We strive to find the right chemotherapy drug, or combination of drugs, for each person. We may use tests, such as tumor molecular profiling, to identify an appropriate drug combination for your disease and help you avoid unnecessary toxicity.

If chemotherapy is part of your treatment plan, your medical oncologist will coordinate your dosage and schedule. You may receive chemotherapy alone, or in combination with other treatment modalities like targeted therapies, surgery and/or radiation therapy.

Throughout your treatment, your medical oncologist will monitor the effectiveness of your chemotherapy regimen and modify your treatment plan accordingly.

Managing chemotherapy side effects

While chemotherapy targets cancer cells, it can also damage healthy cells and cause unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue and mouth sores. Your dedicated care team will provide a variety of supportive care services to help you prevent or manage side effects throughout your chemotherapy treatment.