Surgery in Stomach Cancer


What is Gastrectomy?

If you have cancer of the stomach, your doctor may recommend you take part or all of your stomach out. While this will change the way you digest food, you can still eat and drink. The Surgery will also stop the spread of the cancer, and keep it from returning.

Gastrectomy is the Surgery to remove the stomach. It is of various types depending on your cancer stage and location.

You might have:

  • a subtotal or partial gastrectomy – Part of the stomach is removed
  • a total gastrectomy – Entire stomach is removed
  • an oesophagogastrectomy -Entire stomach and the part of the food pipe (oesophagus) is removed

How is Gastrectomy performed?

Most subtotal and total gastrectomies are performed through a large incision (cut). They can be performed in some facilities using laparoscopy, which allows removal of the stomach through several smaller cuttings in the abdomen. While this method shows promise, many doctors believe these needs to be more researched before it can be considered a normal Stomach Cancer treatment.

For a gastrectomy, you would need to go to the hospital. If the doctor makes a large incision to remove your stomach, it may take between 4 to 5 hours.

First, you will get anaesthesia to make you sleep through the Surgery. A surgeon will make a cut or incision in your abdomen. He will remove a portion or all of your stomach through the incision, as well as some nearby tissue such as your lymph nodes. He will check the nodes and confirm that the cancer has not spread. The surgeon will determine the best way to reconstruct the digestive tract, based on the type of operation that you have.

What are the side effects of Gastrectomy?

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Light-headedness

Living without a Stomach.

The goal is to work towards settling into a “new normal” after surgery, allowing the body to heal and adjust over time to the stomach loss. Around the same time, it is necessary to try to eat as many calories as possible in order to prevent rapid weight loss in the first few months after surgery, and to take in nutrients that the body requires to aid with the healing. It can be difficult to start eating and drinking again and takes a concentrated effort. It is a lot of work and sometimes it seems like life is all of a sudden about eating and drinking – what, when, where, and how much. You may lose familiar feelings of appetite, replaced by feelings of weakness and loneliness. Eating and drinking is out of necessity in the beginning, soon it will become a habit and gradually restore the willingness to eat and enjoy the food.