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Doctors are working to learn more about stomach cancer, ways to prevent it, how to best treat it, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.
Chemoprevention. This is the use of drugs or nutrients to lower a person’s risk of developing cancer. Preliminary research indicates that using antibiotics to treat people infected with Helicobacter pylori (see Risk Factors) can prevent changes to stomach cells that may lead to cancer.
Combination therapy. The combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery may reduce the chance that stomach cancer will return. Doctors may give chemotherapy before surgery (neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (adjuvant therapy). In addition, doctors may give combined radiation therapy and chemotherapy after surgery. Doctors are also exploring the possibility of giving both radiation therapy and chemotherapy before surgery, but this approach is usually given after surgery.
Newer chemotherapy treatments. Multidrug chemotherapy combinations are being increasingly used for people with stomach cancer and may modestly improve effectiveness. As outlined in Treatment, taxanes (a group of drugs that includes paclitaxel [Taxol] and docetaxel [Taxotere]), irinotecan (Camptosar), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), and oral medications such as S-1 and capecitabine (Xeloda) are drugs that are being combined with other types of chemotherapy.
Targeted therapies. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the cancer’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of cancer cells while limiting damage to normal cells. Anti-angiogenesis therapy is a type of targeted therapy. It is focused on stopping angiogenesis, which is the process of making new blood vessels. Because a tumor needs the nutrients delivered by blood vessels to grow and spread, the goal of anti-angiogenesis therapies is to “starve” the tumor. Drugs that block the growth of new blood vessels are called antiangiogenic drugs. Other new drugs function by slowing or stopping the growth of stomach cancer, including the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
Examples of targeted therapies under large-scale investigation include cetuximab (Erbitux) and panitumumab (Vectibix). As discussed in Treatment, trastuzumab, a drug that targets HER2 (a specialized protein that controls cancer growth and spread), is approved for metastatic stomach cancer patients with a HER2-positive tumor. Bevacizumab (Avastin) failed to improve survival when combined with chemotherapy in a recently completed clinical trial. Another recently completed trial of panitumumab (Vectibix) also failed to improve survival when combined with chemotherapy. Learn more about targeted treatments.
Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current stomach cancer treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.
Learn more about common statistical terms used in cancer research.
Looking for More about Current Research?
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