A combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy (chemoimmunotherapy) may improve overall survival among gastric cancer patients. These findings were recently published in the Annals of Oncology.
Gastric cancer forms in the tissues and lining of the stomach. The cause of gastric cancer is unknown. It is estimated that in 2008 approximately 21,500 new cases of gastric cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and that there will 10,800 deaths associated with the disease.
Current treatment options for gastric cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Research is ongoing to determine which therapy or combination of therapies can produce the best outcomes while still being tolerable for the patient. One potential treatment option, immunotherapy, uses the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer.
In the recent study conducted in Korea, researchers assigned patients to receive either traditional chemotherapy with the drugs 5-Floururacil and adriamycin or chemoimmunotherapy with 5-Flourouracil and adriamycin and the immunotherapy drug polyadenylic polyuridylic acid (poly A:U). A total of 280 patients were eligible for the study. Following surgery to remove the tumor, 142 received chemotherapy and 138 received chemoimmunotherapy. Patient groups were balanced for factors such as age, sex, tumor location, and stage of cancer.
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The following was observed during 15 years of follow up:
- There was a significant survival advantage among patients who received chemoimmunotherapy.
- Longer, recurrence-free survival was observed for the chemoimmunotherapy group compared with the traditional chemotherapy group.
- Treatment was generally well tolerated by both groups.
Researchers were encouraged by improvement in survival as well as the recurrence-free survival benefits seen among the chemoimmunotherapy treatment group.
Patients diagnosed with gastric cancer may wish to discuss chemoimmunotherapy with their healthcare provider.
Reference: Jeung, HC, Moon, YW, Rha, SY, et al. Phase III trial of adjuvant 5-flourouracil and adriamycin versus 5-flourouracil and adriamycin a polyadenylic polyuridylic acid (poly a:u) for locally advanced gastric cancer after curative surgery: final results of 15 year follow up. Annals of Oncology. 2008. 19(3); 520-526.