Your treatment plan

Our patients work with their care team to develop a cancer treatment plan. The plan addresses the medical concerns and preferences of each patient.

If you have for cancer of the stomach or esophagus, your plan may include any of these cancer treatment options.

Surgery to remove cancer from the stomach or the esophagus depends on the size and location of the tumor.

  • Gastrectomy is an operation to take out some or all of the stomach.
    • A partial gastrectomy removes the upper part of the stomach and connects the remaining stomach with the esophagus.
    • A total gastrectomy removes all of the stomach. The esophagus is then connected to the small intestine.
  • Esophagectomy provides the best chance for survival for patients whose cancer is just in the esophagus. Most of the esophagus and nearby lymph nodes are removed. The stomach is brought up and attached to the remaining esophagus.
  • Esophagogastrectomy removes most of the esophagus, nearby lymph nodes and the upper part of the stomach. The remaining stomach is brought up and connected to the remaining esophagus.

During the surgery, the surgeon will insert the medical instruments and camera through incision sites (known as ports). The number and sizes of incisions you will have depends on the type of surgery.

Radiation therapy uses high powered X-rays to kill cancer cells.

  • Radiation therapy can help stop cancer that has spread to different areas of the body. It may also alleviate cancer symptoms.
  • External radiation therapy sends cancer-killing rays into the stomach or esophagus from a machine outside the body.
Chemotherapy uses drugs given by mouth or injection to kill cancer cells.

Chemotherapy also may stop cancer that has spread to other organs and is not treatable with surgery or radiation.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are often used together. Chemotherapy can strengthen the effect of radiation therapy.

  • Before surgery, both treatments can make a tumor smaller and easier to remove.
  • After surgery, they can help keep cancer from returning or spreading.

Medical robot treats esophageal cancer

Found too late, esophageal cancer is often deadly. Found early enough, it can be treated with surgery. Abbott Northwestern Hospital is one of the few places in the United States where a surgical robot is being used to remove cancer from the esophagus.

More on robotic-assisted surgery

Source: Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
Reviewed By: Daniel Dunn, MD, medical director, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute Esophageal and Gastric Cancer Program
First Published: 10/29/2009
Last Reviewed: 10/29/2009

Dealing with cancer treatment side effects

Cancer treatment can cause many side effects. Here's how to deal with some common side effects.


Cancer rehabilitation

Whether you are an esophageal or stomach cancer survivor or are undergoing cancer treatment, you may face symptoms that interfere with daily life. Our cancer rehabilitation team can help. Call 612-863-8947.


Cancer research

Participating in a clinical trial may help you take a more active role in your health care. You may also gain access to new drugs, treatments and disease management practices.