If you are told that you have thickening of the stomach lining and plaque in the long curvature and need chemotherapy is it likely that you will also need surgery following this?
My son, who is 46 years old, had an endoscopy which showed a possible growth. The biopsy indicated it was a possible Sarcoma.
He has since had a laparoscopy and has been told that it is no longer a sarcoma, but that he will need chemotherapy.
He is very worried and we don’t live nearby which makes it difficult too. Of course, we too feel the same for him. Ann, USA
I can understand your concerns about the thickening of the stomach lining and plaque, but it sounds as if you only have half the story with your son.
This is ‘oh so common’ as, when faced with a potential diagnosis like a tumor, your brain often goes in to denial of this primarily through fear, anxiety and worry – so all you hear (or retain) is tumor and chemotherapy.
Not having someone with you when told makes this more likely. Feeding the information back to relatives then becomes difficult as you don’t remember all the important bits the doctors said.
Some people also go in to denial when told their diagnosis or indeed sometimes it’s the doctors fault for either not providing the information in layman’s terms or indeed conveying the information properly in the first place!
When breaking bad news I always try to make sure that a friend or a relative is with the person concerned both to provide support and to take in as much information as possible.
Having understood this let’s breakdown what you do know:
Thickening of the stomach – this is a term I really don’t use as it is confusing. It could me that the lining is thick because of inflammation, but some doctors use this vague term to mean a growth, tumor or cancer.
A Plaque on the long curvature – a plaque is even vaguer as it could mean anything. It could mean an area of eroded lining, a change in the lining such as metaplasia (don’t worry about this term) or again it could mean a tumor which I think is what the doctors have likely said this to be as he has been offered chemotherapy. The long curvature is often referred to as the greater curvature if you want to look up in an anatomy book.
As to your question as to whether he will need surgery or not, I can’t answer this question easily.
Your son has had a laparoscopy which is diagnostic test to see if there is any spread of tumor outside the wall.
It is a surgical technique performed under general anaesthesia. Carbon dioxide is pumped in to the abdomen through a small hole made in the abdominal wall using a special instrument.
A camera is then inserted to look inside the abdomen and allows the surgeon to look around at the other vital organs and check they are healthy.
The surgeon can also take tissue samples this way if there is anything that they are concerned about.
Now, back to your son, what’s not clear is whether further tissue samples were taken and an alternative diagnosis to sarcoma was made as a result.
Nor is it clear whether the laparoscopy showed any evidence of spread. What is clear though is this, he has been offered chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is used in the treatment of stomach cancers. It can be used as ‘neoadjuvant’ therapy in combination with other forms of treatment including surgery.
Most people are offered this form of therapy before surgery as it is associated with better outcomes i.e. longer survival, less chance of recurrence.
However, chemotherapy is also offered in the latter stages of the disease to prolong life for a while when cure is not usually possible.
So in summary, it appears to be an ‘unknown tumor type’ on the greater curvature, he is offering chemotherapy.
You really need to gain more information and I would suggest that you speak to his doctor about this as long as your son is in agreement with this.
If you live a long way from the hospital, ask your son to give permission for you to speak to the doctors on the phone and schedule an appointment.
NB: doctors don’t normally disclose information over the phone for confidentiality reasons so it is important that they are notified of your call or perhaps for your son to provide your contact details to them so they can call you.
Hopefully you will then gain more information about the thickening of the stomach lining and plaque plus what treatment can be offered including whether surgery is a possibility for him.