Stomach cancer is rare in the United States; it affects only 28,000 people a year. However, it's the second leading cause of cancer death around the world and has been linked to diets high in preserved meats and low in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Most stomach cancers have grown to an advanced stage by the time they cause symptoms, making them challenging to treat successfully. Screening with endoscopy, which involves looking into the stomach periodically with a special scope, can increase the chance of finding the disease earlier in people at risk, such as Asians and those with H. pylori. Researchers are now learning more about what drives stomach cancer growth at the molecular level and new therapies include both medications that target receptors as well as immunotherapy drugs.
Because stomach cancer is very rare in the United States, it is best treated by doctors who have cared for a large number of patients with the disease. Treatment may include:
- Surgery to remove all or part of the stomach, sometimes followed by reconstruction to retain stomach function. These operations may be performed in a minimally invasive way with laparoscopy or robotic surgery, resulting in smaller incisions and a faster, more comfortable recovery.
- Chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells.
- Targeted therapies that bind to proteins driving stomach cancer growth, such as trastuzumab (which binds to a protein called HER2) and ramucirumab (which inhibits the development of the blood vessels stomach cancers need to grow and spread).
- Radiation therapy, often in combination with chemotherapy, to kill any cancer cells remaining after surgery.
- Immunotherapy with the drug pembrolizumab, which boosts the power of the immune system to detect and destroy stomach cancer cells in a small portion of patients.
The most comprehensive stomach cancer care is offered by a multidisciplinary team of experts at an academic medical center such as NewYork-Presbyterian. NYP cares for the whole patient -- providing symptom management, emotional and social support to patients and their families -- and offers access to clinical trials evaluating promising innovative treatment approaches.
NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers provide high-quality, comprehensive cancer care at convenient locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley and provide a comprehensive program of cancer services in state-of-the-art, comfortable environments. Board certified, disease-focused medical oncologists collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists to provide each patient with an individualized plan of care. To find a location, visit nyp.org/cancerlocations.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest and most comprehensive hospitals in the nation, ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th consecutive year, and No. 6 in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Affiliated with two academic medical colleges – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian brings together internationally recognized researchers and clinicians to develop and implement the latest approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of only three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State. NewYork-Presbyterian provides comprehensive cancer care at all of our locations across the New York Metro area, including Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. Learn more at nyp.org/cancer.