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Subtotal gastrectomy for stomach cancer

What is a subtotal gastrectomy?

In this operation, the cancerous portion of the stomach is removed.

Most often, a subtotal gastrectomy (also known as a partial gastrectomy) is performed if the cancer is in the lower portion of the stomach, near the intestines. In some cases, though, it may be performed to remove the upper portion of the stomach.

How it is performed:

If you undergo subtotal gastrectomy surgery, you’ll first receive general anesthesia to make you unconscious. This ensures that you do not experience pain. Next, your surgical oncologist makes an incision in your abdomen to perform the procedure. He or she then removes the cancerous portion of your stomach. In addition, he or she removes the omentum, as well as lymph nodes near your stomach to properly stage the cancer and determine if it has spread.

A pathologist, who may be present in the surgical suite, then analyzes the lymph nodes to check for cancer. The pathologist provides pathology results immediately so that your surgical oncologist can remove as much of the diseased tissue as possible during the surgery. Depending on the extent of the cancer, other organs or tissues close to the cancerous part of the stomach may also be removed, such as the spleen or portions of the esophagus or small intestine.

Once your surgical oncologist removes the cancer, he or she reattaches your stomach. If the lower portion of your stomach has been removed, your surgical oncologist connects the upper portion to the small intestine. If the upper portion of your stomach has been removed, he or she attaches the lower portion to the esophagus. This allows your digestive tract to continue to function.

Subtotal gastrectomy for stomach cancer

A subtotal gastrectomy:

  • Is an inpatient procedure. Typically patients stay in the hospital for about a week.
  • Takes approximately two to three hours for surgeons to perform.
  • Requires a matter of months for recovery. You may be out of work for about one to two months. You also may not feel up to regular daily activities for approximately three months.
  • May make it easier for you to eat food in comparison to a total gastrectomy, in which the entire stomach is removed.
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