Our Approach to Stomach Cancer

Patients who come to the Siteman Cancer Center for treatment of stomach or upper GI cancer are seen by a team of Washington University Physicians — surgical, medical and radiation oncologists — often during the same visit.  A health psychologist is also available as needed. Experienced nurses then spend time with you, answering your questions and putting you in touch with resources that may help during this stressful time. These nurses offer patient materials on your condition, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and other related issues. As a unique feature of your care, we also offer the services of a palliative care specialist who can help you fit treatment into your own special circumstances, if needed.

Some 24,000 new cases of gastric cancer develop each year in the U.S. Less common are GIST tumors that affect the stomach and GI NETs. Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Sixty percent of GISTs begin in the stomach, 30 percent in the small intestine, and the remaining cases mostly start in the rectum, colon, and esophagus. GI neuroendocrine tumors (NETs), the most common type being carcinoid tumors, are diagnosed in an estimated 11,000 to 12,000 people each year in the U.S. and can arise in the stomach, small intestine, rectum, colon and liver.

Siteman specialists treat stomach cancers, which include gastric cancer of the lining of the stomach, gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST), which invade the connective tissue layer, and NETs with very different therapies. You benefit from treatment performed in this kind of specialized, high-volume center, which produces better outcomes.

Types of treatment used for stomach and small intestine cancer depend on the type of cancer, its malignancy, the stage at which it is diagnosed, whether the cancer has spread outside the stomach or intestine, the patient’s age, and overall health.

Siteman cancer physicians are actively involved in clinical trials that investigate new chemotherapy regimens, and other approaches to cure. Having your cancer treated at Siteman gives you access to new therapies that are as good as – or potentially better than – current standard therapies available elsewhere.