Treating a rare type of stomach cancer

Healthwatch

It’s an aggressive, rare form of cancer that develops in the stomach area. 

Now doctors are tailoring some treatments to help patients. 

67-year-old Jim Gibbs was working full-time and feeling healthy until Superbowl Sunday 2016 when he had a sudden pain in his left side. 

He says, “The next day I was attending some meetings and it was there nagging.” 

A CT scan showed something unusual on his appendix. His doctor ordered more tests. 

Gibbs says, “He called me a week later and said, well, it’s cancerous and it’s signet ring cell cancer.” 

Surgical oncologist Vadim Gushchin says signet ring cell carcinomas are aggressive. Patients have very few symptoms, so the cells often spread before they’re caught. 

Dr. Gushchin says, “By the time a typical diagnosis of a signet ring cell carcinoma of the stomach is made, the entire stomach is engulfed in tumor.” 

Surgery may be a treatment option, but doctors can’t always remove all the cancer.

For Jim, Dr.Gushchin added HIPEC, heated intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy. 

Gibbs says, “They hook you up to a pumping system that pumps in heated chemotherapy and it bathes the entire abdominal cavity, and then they pump it out.” 

Most cancers recur within two years after surgery so Jim spent that time volunteering, doing cancer charity walks.

Jim finished his treatment more than two years ago, and he remains disease-free.     

Dr. Gushchin cautions even with the addition of HIPEC, the cancer is still tough to wipe out. 

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