Gastrectomy Gastric Cancer
What Is It?
Sometimes cancer invades all of an organ, as is the case in stomach cancer. Stomach cancer usually involves a tumor of some kind that grows in the stomach. The only way to cure stomach cancer is to remove the tumor, which often consists of removing the entire stomach and the surrounding tissues and often lymph nodes to prevent the spread of cancer. While some surgeons and doctors feel you can remove part of the stomach, others do not agree.
Gastrectomy, the surgical removal of the stomach, is the best possible treatment currently available for stomach cancer including adenocarcinomas, primary gastric lymphomas and rare gastric sarcomas. The most common form of stomach cancer are typically lymphomas. Many patients can continue having gastric ability if the doctor only removes a portion of the stomach. This is not possible however if too great an areas is removed or if the entire stomach is removed.
During a gastrectomy the doctor will have to perform an open surgery, where the doctor creates a wide incision that allows him or her access to the abdomen. While it is possible to use a laparoscopic technique where the surgeon makes a small incision and uses a video camera to assist with surgery, this surgery is not always used.
The laparoscopic surgery however can reduce the amount of pain experienced from surgery and may improve healing times. One patient with the earliest stages of stomach cancer however can enjoy the benefits of the laparoscopic gastrectomy.
In rare cases doctors may use a gastrectomy to treat severe ulcers as well, when medication therapy alone is not enough to treat ulcers. Some patients develop bleeding ulcers which require acute treatment, and this procedure may help dramatically.
Alternatives to Surgery
A gastrectomy, either partial or total, is currently the treatment of choice for patients with gastric cancer, because it is the only curative treatment for cancer. There are other treatments that can be used as adjunct therapy however, to help eradicate cancer. These may include chemotherapy and radiation.
Patients with ulcer disease may try many different medications before undergoing surgery. Changes in diet and exercise may also help patients that have excess stomach acid. An additional surgery known as a vagotomy ay be performed along with a gastrectomy in patients with severe ulcer disease and not gastric cancer.
Before The Operation
Before operating patients will have many radiograph tests including CT scans and ultrasounds to help diagnose the condition and affirm the location of the tumor that requires removal. This will make the surgical process go much more smoothly. A doctor may also perform a laparoscopy to confirm the tumor or to determine whether a malignancy exists.
Sometimes the laparoscopy is done in the moments just before surgery to determine whether the tumor is operable because if it is not the patient need not undergo unnecessary surgery.
After The Operation
Patients undergoing major surgery like a gastrectomy will often require several weeks to recuperate from surgery. They will spend some time in the hospital recovering. It may take some time for a patient to become accustomed to ingesting liquids and foods following surgery.
If the entire stomach was removed the doctor will have reattached the small intestine directly to the esophagus. The patient will be able to consume only tiny amounts of food initially. With time the body will adapt to this process as well.
Even with surgery there is a chance the cancer may have spread or metastasized and will be later discovered in other areas. Some common complications of surgery may include infection, particularly of the wound site or sepsis. Many patients will complain of severe lethargy in the weeks following surgery.
Many patients will have problems with stomach emptying; some will have difficulty feeling normal. Others will experience heart palpitations or feel light-headed frequently. Food that is rapidly moved from the stomach to the small intestine can cause all of these symptoms which fortunately are treatable with minor changes in diet. Patients are advised to eat several small meals and to limit the amount of liquid they consume.
Some patients will experience severe bloating and pain, particularly if they eat too frequently or too much. This may involve vomiting. Others experience a feeling of fullness after eating too little or experience significant weight loss. Still others may experience a form of low blood sugar known as reactive hypoglycemia. To help prevent this it may benefit patients to eat meals with more protein than carbohydrates.
A gastrectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of all or part of the stomach. This procedure is usually reserved for patients that have gastric cancer or advanced diseases of the stomach. Some patients with severe peptic ulcer disease may also benefit from partial gastrectomy surgeries. There are cases where patients require their entire stomach be removed and other cases where patients require only a small portion of the stomach removed to restore good health.
The procedure is complex and patients often require several weeks to fully heal. Most patients will have to undergo some lifestyle changes to learn how to adapt to their new body and gastric capacity.
Estimated Costs for Gastrectomy
The total cost of a gastrectomy procedure is very different depending on a person’s age, gender, health, and how complicated or involved the surgery needs to be. Some patients will require only a partial gastrectomy whereas others will require a full surgical stomach removal. The more involved the surgery the more cost involved and the more healing time the patient will require.