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Surgery to relieve symptoms

Surgery can help relieve symptoms of advanced stomach cancer. The main reason people have surgery is to relieve a blockage. There are different types of surgery. 

Why do you need surgery?

You might need surgery to relieve symptoms if you have advanced cancer and it can’t be cured. This is called palliative surgery. 

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.

Types of surgery

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 is also called a partial gastrectomy. This surgery 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.

Diagram showing part of the stomach removed to clear a blockage. This operation is called a partial gastrectomy.

Bypass surgery

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

Diagram that shows bypass
Last reviewed: 
10 Jan 2020
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    The Royal College of Surgeons of England, 2019

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

  • Gastric cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up 
    E Smyth and others, 
    Annals of Oncology, 2016. Volume 27, Pages v38–v49

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    Uptodate, May 2016

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    Uptodate, May 2016