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Acta Oncol. 2007;46(3):277-85.

Advances in the treatment of patients with gastric adenocarcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Oncology, Karolinska University Hospital-Södersjukhuset, Stockholm, Sweden.


Despite a decline in its incidence in the Western world, gastric cancer (GC) remains the fourth most frequent cancer diagnosis worldwide and is, after lung cancer, the second leading cause of death from a malignant disease globally. Based on the published literature, treatment guidelines and reports from international meetings, we here review the current treatment options for GC and discuss insights and perspectives from the latest clinical studies. The management of GC in the early stages of the disease is based on an optimal surgical resection of the primary tumor and the regional lymph nodes. However, less than one third of patients have a resectable disease at diagnosis and among those operated, more than half are not cured by surgery alone, due to a high rate of relapse. Thus, for the majority of patients, systemic cytotoxic therapy, and sometimes radiotherapy, is a treatment option both as an adjunct to surgery and in the palliative setting. Adjuvant chemotherapy offers only a marginal benefit and has not become a standard of care in the West. In North America, adjuvant chemoradiation is broadly used, shown to significantly improve overall survival, albeit with the cost of high toxicity. Furthermore, a recently reported study from the United Kingdom demonstrated a significant disease-free and survival benefit by the use of perioperative combination chemotherapy. Several chemotherapeutic agents have been tested as a palliative therapy in advanced GC including 5- fluorouracil (5-FU), oral pyrimidines, platinum derivatives, anthracyclines, taxanes and camptothecans. It is now accepted that chemotherapy is better than best supportive care only and that 5-FU based combinations are more effective than monotherapy. However, the response rates have generally been moderate and there is no consensus on the optimal combination of cytotoxic agents and the potential role of more recently developed "targeted therapies".

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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