Stomach Cancer: Latest Research

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2014

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, use the menu on the side of your screen.

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 Options 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. The various types of targeted therapies being researched for stomach cancer are described below.

  • Drugs that target the gene c-MET, which makes a protein that some tumors use to grow and spread, are being researched.
  • Bevacizumab (Avastin) when combined with chemotherapy did not help lengthen patients’ lives in a recently completed clinical trial.
  • Researchers studied drugs that block epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). However, two recently completed trials of either panitumumab or cetuximab combined with chemotherapy did not lengthen patients’ lives.

Immunotherapy. Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses materials made either by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function.

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:

The next section addresses how to cope with the symptoms of the disease or the side effects of its treatment. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Coping with Side Effects, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.