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Stomach (Gastric) Cancer

Imaging of stomach tumor

Stomach cancer is rare, and rates in the United States continue to decline. Yet for people with a CDH1 gene mutation, developing stomach cancer at some point in life is a very real possibility. At the Abramson Cancer Center, nationally recognized cancer experts provide outstanding care and support to people affected by stomach cancer.

About Stomach Cancer

Stomach cancer (gastric cancer) develops when abnormal cells inside the stomach start growing out of control. Most stomach cancers are adenocarcinomas, a type of cancer that develops in the inner layer of the stomach. Our team offers special expertise in treating a rare type of cancer called gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) that sometimes grows in the stomach.

A small portion of stomach cancers have a genetic link, caused by a problem in the CDH1 gene. People with a CHD1 genetic mutation have a greater chance of developing gastric cancer. We offer a unique expertise in treating CDH1 mutation and stomach cancer risk.

Why Choose the Abramson Cancer Center for Stomach Cancer Care?

Our unique approach to stomach cancer treatment helped reshape how doctors everywhere treat the disease. We provide access to leading treatments, including sophisticated surgeries and promising clinical trials. We stay in close contact with you during your treatment and ensure you can reach us at any time through our easy-to-navigate patient portal, myPennMedicine.

When you choose us, you can expect:

  • Exceptional expertise: Our doctors’ subspecialty fellowship training gives them in-depth insights into treating rare and complex stomach cancers. Medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and pathologists are just some of the specialists who weigh in on every patient’s care. Our surgeons perform a high volume of successful gastrectomy (stomach removal) surgeries to treat gastric cancer. In many cases, thoracic surgeons, surgical oncologists and GI surgeons work together, performing specialized procedures. This team approach enables us to make sure you get the best treatment.
  • Precise diagnosis: Using tools like advanced endoscopy, our doctors detect and biopsy (remove a sample for analysis) cancer. Our pathologists use the latest methods, including genetic tests, to learn as much about gastric cancers as possible and guide treatment. Learn about GI cancer diagnosis.
  • Focus on hereditary stomach cancers: The national experts in our Gastrointestinal Cancer Risk Evaluation Program can help you identify your lifetime cancer risk. We work with you make informed treatment decisions. We offer the only patient support group in the area to help patients navigate prophylactic gastrectomy and the changes it brings.
  • Comprehensive support: Stomach cancer treatment may change how you eat. Nutrition professionals with training in digestive system cancers will help you adapt to your new normal. Nurse navigators guide you to the right specialists and provide a sympathetic ear. Learn more about navigating GI cancer.
  • Coordinated care: You can receive the same level of expert stomach cancer care at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and satellite locations throughout the region. Our GI cancer specialists collaborate with doctors at other locations whenever you need us.

Our Approach to Stomach Cancer Treatment: The Penn Medicine Advantage

Our specialists consider many factors, including your health, a tumor’s location and tumor DNA, when personalizing your treatment plan. We explain all your options, including what to expect and how you can prepare. Together we decide on the right path forward.

Stomach cancer treatment options include:

  • Surgery: Gastrectomy surgery removes part or all of the stomach along with other affected tissues. For early-stage cancers, surgery may be the only treatment you need. We routinely perform intricate procedures, treating many cases other centers consider inoperable. Our team always uses the least invasive surgical techniques possible to help you recover more quickly. Learn more about surgery for stomach cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: For some patients, our team often uses a “chemotherapy-first” treatment approach to shrink some stomach cancer tumors before surgery.
  • Immunotherapy: These newer cancer drugs help the immune system attack cancer cells more effectively.
  • Targeted therapy: These medications target specific changes in cancer cells that allow them to grow and spread. We use specialized tests to match you with therapies that are right for you.
  • Radiation therapy: Penn has one of the largest radiation therapy departments in the country, with a full spectrum of leading therapies, including proton therapy. Doctors who specialize in treating stomach cancer with intense energy beams tailor treatment to your needs.
  • Clinical trials: Penn is a national leader in gastrointestinal cancer research. We can often offer stomach cancer patients treatment options still in development. Some therapies are only available at our center through clinical trials. Read about our GI cancer research.
  • Supportive care: Supportive services decrease your stress and improve your well-being. We’re here to help you cope with any challenges or changes a stomach cancer diagnosis brings. Learn more about GI cancer support services.

Comprehensive Stomach Cancer Follow-up

Some types of stomach cancer are more likely to come back, possibly long after treatment ends. We tailor a long-term follow-up plan to your needs, helping you protect your health while focusing on living well.

Request an Appointment

Call 215-615-5858 to speak with a cancer center representative who can guide you to the right stomach cancer expert for your needs. You can also request an appointment online.