Why Sheba Medical Center is a Top Choice for Gastric Cancer Treatment
Gastric cancer, also known as stomach cancer, is an abnormal growth of cells that begins in the stomach, and the second leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide.
The malignancy, which occurs most frequently in the seventh decade of life, can originate in any part of the stomach, but most commonly manifests in the main part of the stomach (stomach body) and the gastroesophageal junction – the point where the esophagus and stomach converge. Gastric cancer occurs when the DNA of a stomach cell mutates, causing the cell to quickly multiply and continue living when healthy cells would normally die. The accumulating cells can eventually form a tumor, which may then invade and destroy surrounding healthy tissue. With time, cells can break off and metastasize to other areas of the body, resulting in stage IV gastric cancer.
Often, a delay in diagnosis may account for a poor prognosis. Fortunately, recent years saw advancements in research concerning gastric cancer pathology and identification, which, along with the development of advanced endoscopic techniques, have caused a significant increase in survival rates. Like most cancers, gastric cancer can be categorized into stages according to its extent and spread.
Gastric cancer is classified into five stages:
- Stage 0 gastric cancer, also called carcinoma in situ, is when abnormal cells have been discovered in the innermost stomach layer but have not migrated to other body areas.
- Stages I-II denote that the abnormal cells have spread to other stomach layers and maybe adjacent lymph nodes, but have not spread to other organs.
- Stage III tumors are present in multiple layers of the stomach as well as numerous lymph nodes. In addition, metastasis to adjacent organs may have also begun.
- Stage IV gastric cancer marks that the tumor is metastatic and has spread to other, distant organs via the bloodstream and lymphatic system.
Gastric Cancer Treatment
Gastric cancer treatment can be complex, so it is crucial to choose a medical center staffed with top-tier cancer specialists and medical experts with vast experience in a wide range of disciplines for treatment.
In most cases, the main component of gastric cancer treatment is the surgical removal of the tumor, but a treatment plan can also include radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and chemotherapy. In particular, Sheba Medical Center in Israel uses HIPEC treatment for gastric cancer as an advanced, focused chemotherapy procedure, and as a potent tool when dealing with advanced-stage gastric cancer.
Gastric cancer often metastasizes, or spreads to the abdominal cavity – the largest hollow space of the body that stretches from the diaphragm to the upper plane of the pelvic cavity. The abdominal cavity is lined by the peritoneum, a membrane that covers not only the inside wall of the cavity (parietal peritoneum) but also every organ in it (visceral peritoneum). The space between the visceral and parietal peritoneum is called the peritoneal cavity. Chemotherapy is usually the treatment of choice in these cases. Unfortunately, the prognosis is often bad.
The problem with conventional chemotherapy in these cases is that it is almost always administered intravenously, while many of these cancers have poor blood circulation, meaning it is difficult for the chemotherapy drugs to reach their targets via the circulatory system. The solution? HIPEC.
Hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) is a chemotherapy ‘wash’ applied after surgical removal of visible abdominal tumors through cytoreductive surgery. During the HIPEC procedure, the peritoneal cavity is bathed in highly concentrated doses of chemotherapy at an elevated temperature of 42 degrees Celsius. After about 90 minutes of infusion, the chemotherapy drugs are washed out.
HIPEC allows administering approximately 20 times the IV dose of chemotherapy, drastically increasing efficacy. Since the chemotherapy is delivered locally rather than systematically, the resulting toxic effects are also minimized. This high, heated dose of chemotherapy, combined with surgical removal of tumors, is currently the most effective method of addressing metastatic gastric cancer in the abdominal cavity.
As reflected by published studies, the results of HIPEC far exceed those of conventional chemotherapy or surgery alone.
HIPEC at Sheba Medical Center
With a very high success rate, more than 500 patients have already undergone the HIPEC procedure at Sheba Medical Center in Israel, recognized as a global leader in its application. Prof. Aviram Nissan, Head of the Surgical Oncology Department at Sheba, was one of the first doctors worldwide to train in this innovative procedure, and surgeons from around the world travel to Israel to learn how to perform HIPEC from Prof. Nissan. At Sheba, the HIPEC procedure can also be performed laparoscopically by creating tiny port incisions through which a camera and instruments are inserted into the abdominal cavity instead of using a long incision as in open surgery. Laparoscopic HIPEC patients require no surgical drains and are typically able to leave the hospital after just a few days.
Other advantages of receiving treatment at Sheba include:
- As a government institution, we have no hidden costs, and our fees are transparent. Although we offer advanced treatments available only in select medical institutions around the world, our prices are affordable.
- Sheba treats each patient as a unique individual, personalizing every therapy program.
- Sheba’s 360-degree care approach to every patient, which means that Sheba’s professionals will assist you with arranging medical record reviews, travel, visas, accommodations, and language interpretation as needed.
- Sheba has full accreditation from the Joint Commission International (JCI), the premier international healthcare accrediting group.
- Sheba has both advanced treatment and laboratory facilities. At Sheba, patients receive every aspect of their treatment in a single facility.
- Our physicians are actively involved in the latest research and application of progressive treatments.
- Multidisciplinary medicine: at Sheba, specialists from various departments collaborate to create a holistic treatment plan.