Stomach Surgery for Improved Cancer Survival

Gastrectomies led to improved survival for stomach cancer patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Patients who have advanced stomach cancer sometimes choose stomach surgery to relieve bleeding and other painful symptoms. That operation may also prolong their lives.

A recent review of previous studies examined how gastrectomy, a type of stomach surgery, affected patients with serious stomach cancer.

The reviewers found that patients who chose gastrectomies lived almost twice as long after baseline as the patients who did not undergo the surgery.

The authors of this review noted that patients who received chemotherapy in addition to a gastrectomy had significantly improved outcomes.

"If you have stomach cancer, talk to your oncologist about your options."

Jingxu Sun, of the Department of Surgical Oncology and General Surgery at First Hospital of China Medical University, led this review of studies on gastrectomy and stomach cancer.

A gastrectomy involves removing part or all of the stomach. For some patients with advanced stomach cancer, a gastrectomy can help to relieve symptoms, improve quality of life and lengthen survival.

To see whether gastrectomies benefited patients with advanced stomach cancer, Sun and colleagues looked at previous studies on the procedure.

These researchers reviewed 14 observational studies involving 3,003 patients with stomach cancer. Of these participants, 1,461 underwent gastrectomy and 1,542 did not.

These researchers found that the patients who received gastrectomies survived for an average of 14.96 months, while the non-gastrectomy group lived for about 7 months after baseline.

Additionally, patients who underwent a gastrectomy experienced a significant improvement in overall survival compared to patients who did not receive the procedure.

The patients who received chemotherapy in addition to the surgery also had an improved chance of survival.

In some stomach cancer patients, the cancer spreads to other organs. Sun and team found that patients with cancer that had spread to the liver had markedly better outcomes than in patients whose cancer spread to other organs.

Based on the results of the studies, the researchers concluded that gastrectomy could improve survival in patients with advanced stomach cancer, depending on whether the patient also chooses chemotherapy and whether the cancer has spread.

The researchers added that stomach cancer patients would also have to take quality of life and the risks of the surgery into consideration when thinking about a gastrectomy.

This research was published in BMC Cancer on December 5.

The review was funded by the National Science Foundation of China, the Project of Science and Technology of Shenyang and the Program of Education Department of Liaoning Province. The researchers declared no competing interests.

Review Date: 
December 9, 2013
Last Updated:
January 2, 2014