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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
- Laparoscopic gastrectomy is a newer type of less invasive surgery done to treat early stomach cancers. A gastrectomy is surgery to remove a part or all of your stomach. The stomach is a hollow organ that breaks down food into nutrients (small pieces your body can take in). It absorbs (takes in) some of these nutrients and the rest then pass into your small intestine (bowel). Your stomach is connected to your mouth by a tube called the esophagus. This surgery is used for stomach cancer that is found early and is still small in size. You may have cancer in the upper or lower part of your stomach, or both. Your caregiver will do surgery that is tailored to the location and size of your cancer.
- Stomach cancer happens when abnormal cells in your stomach grow and become tumors. Cancer cells may break off from the tumors and spread to other parts of your body, such as your lymph nodes. Laparoscopic gastrectomy is done using special tools put into small incisions (cuts) made in your abdomen (belly). The laparoscope is a long metal tool with a tiny video camera and light at the tip. Your caregivers can see your stomach and other parts inside your abdomen by watching on a video screen. Caregivers use other special tools to cut and remove the stomach tumors and other tissues inside your abdomen. After surgery you should have less pain and faster healing compared to having an open (large incision) gastrectomy. Laparoscopic gastrectomy may be all the treatment you need to make your early stomach cancer go away.
Take your medicine as directed.
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
- Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
- Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
- Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
- Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
- Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.
Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:
For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.
- Ask your caregiver when you need to return to have your wound checked. You will also need to have your stitches or staples removed.
Bathing with stitches:
Follow your primary healthcare provider's instructions on when you can bathe. Gently wash the part of your body that has the stitches. Do not rub on the stitches to dry your skin. Pat the area gently with a towel. When the area is dry, put on a clean, new bandage as directed.
You will be started on soft foods while you are in the hospital. Some examples are applesauce, baby food, bananas, cooked cereal, cottage cheese, eggs, gelatin, pudding, and yogurt. Your caregivers will check on how well you do with these foods to see when you can take regular foods. You may be able to take bigger and bigger amounts when your incisions heal completely. Your body may not get enough nutrients from food after your stomach is removed. You may need additional iron, folate, and vitamin B12. You may need a special diet if you get dumping syndrome. This is when you get loose, watery stools (BMs) very soon after you eat. Ask your caregiver for more information about the supplements and diet changes that may be right for you.
CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:
- You cannot make it to your next appointment.
- You are getting frequent heartburn (burning upset stomach).
- You have a cough, sore throat, or feel weak and achy.
- You have nausea (upset stomach) or are throwing up food.
- You have trouble having a bowel movement, or have diarrhea (loose, watery stools) often.
- You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
- You have questions or concerns about your recovery, medicine, or care.
SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:
- You are throwing up blood.
- You get a fever or chills.
- You have pain in your abdomen which does not go away or gets worse.
- Your bandages become soaked with blood.
- Your incisions are swollen, red, have pus coming from them, or start to come apart.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.
- You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.