Oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology
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Stomach Cancer

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 5/2013
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ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about this type of cancer and how to treat it. To see other pages in this guide, use the colored boxes on the right side of your screen, or click “Next” at the bottom.

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. Early research suggests that using antibiotics to treat H.  pylori infections (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 (called neoadjuvant therapy) or after surgery (called adjuvant therapy). In addition, doctors may also combine radiation therapy and chemotherapy after surgery. Doctors are also looking at giving both radiation therapy and chemotherapy before surgery.

Newer chemotherapy treatments. Chemotherapy with multiple combinations of drugs is being increasingly used for people with stomach cancer, because they work slightly better when used together than as single drugs. As outlined in the Treatment section, drugs such as paclitaxel, docetaxel, irinotecan, oxaliplatin, as well as oral medications such as S-1 (TS-1) and capecitabine are being studied in combination 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. The various types of targeted therapies being researched for stomach cancer are described below.

  • Anti-angiogenesis therapy 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. Bevacizumab (Avastin) when combined with chemotherapy did not help lengthen patients’ lives in a recently completed clinical trial. However, a study on the new antiangiogenesis therapy ramucirumab (IMC-1121B) showed that this drug helped control tumor growth and lengthen lives for patients with a tumor that has grown while receiving initial chemotherapy.
  • Drugs that target c-MET, which makes a protein that some tumors use to grow and spread, are also being researched.
  • Researchers have found that drugs that block epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) may be effective for stopping or slowing the growth of stomach cancer. Both cetuximab (Erbitux) and panitumumab (Vectibix) are being researched for stomach cancer. However, two recently completed trials of either panitumumab or cetuximab combined with chemotherapy did not lengthen patients’ lives.
  • As discussed in Treatment, trastuzumab is an approved treatment for metastatic HER2-positive stomach cancer.

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.

Looking for More about the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding stomach cancer, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

To continue reading this guide, choose “Next” (below, right) to see a section about coping with the side effects of the disease or its treatment. Or, use the colored boxes located on the right side of your screen to visit any section.

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