Linitis plastica of the stomach

Gastric linitis plastica is the medical term for a rare type of stomach (gastric) cancer. It can thicken your stomach wall and affect digestion. Treatment for linitis plastica is like treatment for other types of stomach cancers.

What is linitis plastica?

Linitis plastica is a type of adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of stomach cancer.

Linitis plastica spreads to the muscles of the stomach wall and makes it thicker and more rigid.  

This means that the stomach can’t hold as much and doesn’t stretch or move as it should when you’re digesting food. This stiff walled stomach is sometimes called a leather bottle stomach.


Linitis plastica doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it has grown quite large or spread. Because of this it can be difficult to diagnose early, which then makes it harder to treat.

When it does cause symptoms, they are similar to stomach cancer symptoms.


The tests you have to diagnose linitis plastica are similar to the tests for stomach cancer. Sometimes linitis plastica can be difficult to diagnose. 

Treatment for linitis plastica in the stomach

The main treatments for linitis plastic are surgery or chemotherapy. You might also have radiotherapy to help relieve your symptoms. 

Unfortunately, most people won't be able to have surgery. This is because linitis plastica is often found to have spread at diagnosis. 


Your doctor might suggest that they remove your stomach. This is called a total gastrectomy.

This type of cancer is very fast growing and is often at an advanced stage at diagnosis. This means that surgery isn't usually possible. It might be difficult to completely remove a large cancer or one that has spread beyond the stomach wall. 


Chemotherapy might be an option, if surgery isn't possible. Chemotherapy uses anti cancer (cytotoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. The aim of chemotherapy treatment is to slow down the growth of the cancer and to relieve symptoms.

Chemotherapy can have side effects. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the side effects as well as the benefits of having chemotherapy. You also need to take into account how well you are generally when you make the decision about treatment. 


You might have radiotherapy to help relieve your symptoms. Radiotherapy uses high energy waves similar to x-rays to treat cancer.  


Coping with cancer can be very difficult. But there is help and support available.

  • Managing gastric linitis plastica: keep the scalpel sheathed. 
    S Jafferbhoy and others
    Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, 2013. Volume13, Pages 451-453.

  • Prognostic factors in patients with diffuse type gastric cancer (linitis plastica) after operative treatment
    M Schauer and others
    European Journal of Medical Research, 2011. Volume 16, Pages 29–33. 

  • Guidelines for the management of oesophageal and gastric cancer
    WH Allum and others
    Gut, 2011. Volume 60, Pages 1449–72.

  • UpToDate
    Accessed 20/02/22

Last reviewed: 
10 Feb 2022
Next review due: 
10 Feb 2025

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