Radiation Therapy for Stomach Cancer
by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Radiation therapy uses high energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. Special tools and dosing will help to kill as much of the cancer as possible while minimizing the effect on nearby healthy tissue. A radiation oncologist will customize the treatment dose for individual needs.
For stomach cancer, radiation therapy is most often used in combination with chemotherapy (called chemoradiation). The combination of chemotherapy and radiation is more effective in shrinking the stomach tumor and extending life than either treatment alone.
Radiation therapy may also be given:
External Beam Radiation
In external beam radiation therapy, a machine directs high-energy rays through the body and into the tumor. There are many different radiation machines used for external radiation therapy based on the size and location of the tumor, surrounding tissue, and type of cancer. The radiation oncologist will discuss options, doses, and frequency of radiation so that the highest amount of radiation can be delivered to the cancer with as little impact on healthy tissue as possible. External beam radiation is often given daily over the course of several weeks.
Delivery methods help to deliver the maximum amount of radiation possible to the tumor while minimizing exposure to healthy surrounding tissue. Methods to improve delivery include:
This is also called internal radiation therapy. Radioactive material sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters is placed near the tumor. This allows a higher dose of radiation to be delivered directly to the tumor.
A variety of treatments are available to help manage side effects of radiation therapy, such as dry, irritated skin, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fatigue due to anemia. Sometimes adjustments to treatment doses may also be possible. The earlier side effects are addressed, the more likely they will be controlled with a minimum of discomfort.
Gastric carcinoma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116155/Gastric-carcinoma . Updated September 27, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Gastric cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach/patient/stomach-treatment-pdq. Updated April 27, 2017. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Radiation therapy for stomach cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/stomach-cancer/treating/radiation-therapy.html. Updated March 15, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Stomach cancer. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 2017. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 9/1/2017
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.