Treatment Options for Metastatic Gastric Cancer

Li Liu, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

I have a 33 year-old sister who has developed stage IV gastric cancer. The cancer was discovered last May 1999 and 85% of her stomach was cut out and 3/15 lymph nodes were positive. Recently, the cancer has come back outside of her stomach and has metastasized to her liver. Can you point me to any clinical trials?

Li Liu, MD, OncoLink Editorial Assistant, responds:

Dear P,  
Thank you for your interest and question.

The standard care for patients with metastatic gastric cancer has been 5-FU-based chemotherapy. Some small randomized studies have demonstrated the survival advantage of 5-FU based chemotherapy plus supportive care over supportive care alone (Semin Oncol 1996 Jun;23(3):397-406). Some newer combination chemotherapy regimens have shown very high response rates. Unfortunately, the chance of cure for patients with advanced gastric cancer is low. New cytotoxic agents currently under investigation for advanced gastric cancer include irenotecan, taxol, gemcitabine, oxaliplatin, UFT, endostatin, and some immunotherapy agents.

Numerous clinical trials testing these agents and other treatments are available, either national or in some local medical centers. You can search active clinical trials through CancerNet, which is sponsored by National Cancer Institute.