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Source: Stomach Cancer, a booklet published by the National Cancer Centre Singapore, a member of the SingHealth group. It has information on the risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of stomach cancer, and is in English and Chinese on the NCCS website.

Stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer) is treated depending on the size, location, and extent of the tumour. It also depends on the stage of the disease when the cancer is found and the patient’s general health.

Stomach cancer treatments

The main treatment for early stage stomach cancer is surgery to remove part of the organ or all of it, as well as suspicious lymph nodes near it and in the surrounding tissue. Chemotherapy, which uses drugs to kill cancer cells, and radiation therapy may also be needed.

Clinical trials show that new treatments such as biological therapy (immunotherapy) may be effective in certain types of gastric cancer.

Side effects of chemotherapy may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Temporary hair loss
  • Risk of infection due to a reduction in white blood cells
  • Risk of bruising or bleeding due to a drop in platelets
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Loss of appetite and mouth ulcers

Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing further.

Side effects of radiation therapy vary from patient to patient and may include:

  • “Sunburn”, in which the skin on the treated area may become dry, red, tender and itchy
  • Diarrhoea, nausea, and/or vomiting

Dietary changes or medicine may be prescribed to counteract these symptoms.

Tips to better cope with stomach cancer treatment

  1. Good nutrition
    Many patients with stomach cancer (gastric cancer) lose a lot of weight. It is important for them to eat well as building up to a nearly normal weight can aid recovery.

    Cancer and its treatments can cause a loss of appetite. Advice from a dietician to learn more about possible dietary changes will be helpful after stomach surgery.

  2. Strong support
    Supportive care to help people and their families to cope with cancer and its treatment should begin once cancer is suspected. Patients do not need to struggle with the illness alone.

    Useful support services include the Medical Social Service Department of the hospital where treatment is done, and cancer support groups.

Did you know stomach cancer is among the top 10 cancers in Singapore?
Learn about the symptoms of stomach cancer (gastric cancer) and how the condition is diagnosed.

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