Palliative management of gastric cancer

Steven C. Cunningham, Richard D. Schulick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Advanced gastric cancer and its palliative treatment have a long and interesting history. Today, gastric adenocarcinoma is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Unfortunately, many cases are not diagnosed until late stages of disease, which underscores the importance of the palliative treatment of gastric cancer. Palliative care is best defined as the active total care of patients whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment. Although endoscopy is the most useful method for securing the diagnosis of gastric adenocarcinoma, computed tomography may be useful to assess local and distant disease. The main indication for the institution of palliative care is the presence of advanced gastric cancer for which curative treatment is deemed inappropriate. The primary goal of palliative therapy of gastric cancer patients is to improve quality, not necessarily length, of life. Four main modalities of palliative therapy for advanced gastric cancer are discussed: resection, bypass, stenting, and chemotherapy. The choice of modality depends on a variety of factors, including individual patient prognosis and goals, and should be made on case-by-case basis. Future directions include the discovery and development of serum or stool tumor markers aimed at prevention, improving prognostication and stratification, and increasing awareness and education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-275
Number of pages9
JournalSurgical Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Gastric cancer
  • Palliation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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