Stomach cancer is relatively rare in the United States, but it is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world. The stomach cancer specialists at NewYork-Presbyterian are highly experienced in diagnosing and treating stomach cancer, using combinations of treatments to customize a plan of care for each of our patients. We also offer clinical trials of new therapies that hold promise for extending the lives of people with stomach cancer.
A Team of Stomach Cancer Specialists
If you have stomach cancer, we will assemble an interdisciplinary team of gastrointestinal specialists in interventional endoscopy, radiology, surgery, medical oncology, and radiation oncology to meet your needs. They will work together to provide you with coordinated, advanced, and customized care.
Surveillance Programs to Find Stomach Cancer Early
There are groups of individuals whose risk is elevated due to certain factors, such as H. pylori infection, chronic inflammation (atrophic gastritis), and ethnicity (Asian Americans are at the highest risk). NewYork-Presbyterian offers stomach cancer screening with endoscopy to people at increased risk. The earlier a cancer is found, the better the chance of a cure.
Accurate Diagnosis and Staging
A key component of your care is an accurate diagnosis and measurement of the extent of your disease—a process called staging. We use the results of these tests to determine the most effective course of care for you. We offer the most advanced diagnostic and staging tools for stomach cancer, including:
- Upper endoscopy. This test involves examination of the stomach using a gastroscope (a tube inserted into the stomach with a camera at its tip) to help detect abnormalities.
- Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS). If cancer is confirmed, our endoscopists perform this test using an endoscope with an ultrasound probe at the tip. They use EUS to help see the tumor, gauge its depth, and determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes or invaded surrounding organs or vessels. Sometimes they can remove superficial tumors using an approach called endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR).
- Confocal laser endomicroscopy. Our interventional endoscopists use this technique to obtain enhanced images of the stomach wall to detect and treat early cancers that are not visible by other methods. NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the few centers in the country using this technology.
- Imaging tests. We may also perform high-resolution computed tomography (CT or CAT) scanning and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to assess your cancer.
Minimally invasive Stomach Cancer Surgery
If your stomach cancer is operable. Our surgeons may perform a subtotal or partial gastrectomy (removal of part of the stomach containing the cancer) or a total gastrectomy (removal of the entire stomach, connecting the esophagus to the small intestine).
- Laparoscopy. We perform these procedures laparoscopically whenever possible, resulting in smaller incisions, less blood loss and less pain after surgery, a quicker recovery, and a shorter hospital stay.
- Robotic stomach cancer surgery. Patients who can have minimally invasive surgery may have it performed robotically. The robot enables your surgeon to operate with a greater magnification of the surgical field and more precision in the use of surgical instruments.
- GIST surgery. If you have a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) — a rare and slow-growing type of gastric tumor that usually begins in the lining of the stomach — we may use a combination of endoscopy and laparoscopy to remove the tumor.
- D-2 lymphadenectomy. We also perform D-2 lymphadenectomy, a technically challenging surgical procedure performed during gastric cancer surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes and reduce the chance of further cancer spread.
- Stomach reconstruction. Our surgeons are experts in the three major stomach cancer reconstructive surgeries: gastroduodenostomy, gastrojejunostomy, and Roux-en-Y. The choice of procedure depends on your health status and surgical preference. If stomach surgery is an option for you, your surgeon will discuss your reconstruction choices, which are designed to help you retain stomach function.
You may receive chemotherapy before or during surgery (to shrink your tumor) or after surgery (to kill any remaining cancer cells). You can receive intravenous therapies in our modern, comfortable infusion centers.
- Trastuzumab. If you have a stomach cancer that makes too much of a protein called HER2, you may receive trastuzumab, which targets this protein.
- Imatinib. People with GIST most often receive imatinib, a targeted chemotherapy drug that is extremely effective for treating this type of cancer. You can take it each day by mouth at home.
- Advanced cytotoxic chemotherapy. Most individuals with stomach cancer will benefit from chemotherapy. Our approach is to tailor the treatment to the individual to optimize care and minimize side effects.
Precise Radiation Therapy
Our physicians may combine chemotherapy with radiation therapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells following surgery or to relieve symptoms. Some people receive brachytherapy: the application of radiation sources directly to the cancer during surgery.
Treating All of You
To support your quality of life, we offer palliative care, which includes services such as pain management. Our nutritionists, social workers, palliative care experts, and others will help you and your loved ones address the effects of cancer and its treatment — physical, emotional, and spiritual. We understand the burden cancer can place on your life and the lives of your loved ones, and we do whatever we can to lessen that burden.
Clinical Trials for Stomach Cancer
You may be able to participate in a clinical trial, whether you are receiving chemotherapy for the first time or you have received it before. Clinical trials offer patients more options and an opportunity to receive cutting-edge treatment that is based on our advanced understanding of the disease biology.