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Surgery to relieve symptoms

Surgery can help relieve symptoms of advanced stomach cancer including a blockage. Find out about the types of surgery.

Why you may need surgery

You may need surgery to relieve symptoms if you have advanced cancer and it can’t be cured. This is called palliative surgery. What surgery you’ll have depends on:

  • the size of your cancer
  • where the cancer is
  • your general health and fitness
  • your symptoms

The main reason people have surgery is to relieve a blockage. Stomach cancer can grow so that it blocks, or partly blocks, the passage of food through your digestive system. This can cause:

  • feeling full after eating only small amounts
  • pain
  • sickness
  • constipation
  • bleeding

To relieve these symptoms, or stop them getting worse, you may have bypass surgery or surgery to remove part of your stomach.

There are two types of operation:

  • surgery to remove part of your stomach – partial gastrectomy
  • bypass surgery

Other treatments for a blockage include:

  • a stent
  • chemotherapy or biological therapy
  • radiotherapy

Surgery to remove part of your stomach

Removing part of your stomach (partial gastrectomy) can relieve a blockage. How much the surgeon removes depends on the position of the cancer. You’ll have a smaller stomach afterwards and you’ll need to eat small amounts more often rather than a big meal.

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Bypass surgery

You may have a bypass operation if your surgeon can’t remove the cancer. The surgeon attaches the small bowel (duodenum) to the part of the stomach above the blockage. The food can then move through to the bowel.

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Last reviewed: 
06 Jul 2016
  • National Oesophago-Gastric Cancer Audit
    The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 2013

  • Guidelines for the management of oesophageal and gastric cancer
    WH Allum and others
    Gut. 2011 Nov;60(11):1449-72

  • Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    Gastric cancer: ESMO–ESSO–ESTRO Clinical Practice
    T. Waddell and others, Annals of Oncology 24 (Supplement 6): vi57–vi63, 2013

  • Local palliation for advanced gastric cancer
    Uptodate, May 2016

  • Systemic therapy for locally advanced unresectable and metastatic-esophageal and gastric cancer
    Uptodate, May 2016

Information and help

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