At the 2017 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco researchers presented new trial results demonstrating that Opdivo (nivolumab) significantly reduced the risk of death by 37% in patients with previously treated advanced gastric cancer refractory to or intolerant of standard therapy, a condition without current standard-of-care treatments.
About Gastric Cancer
Gastric cancer refers to cancer of the stomach. The American Cancer Society estimates that 24,590 Americans will be diagnosed with gastric cancer and an estimated 10,720 Americans are expected to die from the disease annually. The relative five-year survival rate for all stages combined is approximately 28%.
Though gastric cancer has a relatively low incidence in the United States, it is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide. The incidence of gastric cancer is quite high in Asian countries such as Korea, China, Taiwan, and Japan. Treatment of gastric cancer typically involves surgical removal of the cancer followed by the use of chemotherapy with or without radiation therapy, however new therapies are desperately needed.
The most successful treatment for gastric cancer starts with early detection. Most cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed in the advanced stages as there is no routine test for early detection. This makes it very important for people to know their risk for developing stomach cancer. The main risk factors for gastric cancer include:
- Gender: Men are twice as likely to develop stomach cancer than women.
- Ethnicity: Korean-Americans have the highest stomach cancer risk among all ethnic groups. Other Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Latinos also have an elevated risk of developing stomach cancer.
- Genetics: Parents, siblings, or children of a stomach cancer patient have a moderately higher risk of developing the disease.
- Helicobacter pylori infection: H. pylori infection, a type of bacterium and common cause of gastric ulcers, is found in the majority of stomach cancer patients.
- Atrophic gastritis: A chronic inflammation of the stomach lining can lead to the development of cancer over time.
- Diet: A diet high in salted, pickled, smoked, or preserved foods is associated with a higher stomach cancer risk.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing gastric cancer.
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Individuals thought to be at high risk should talk to their physician about risk assessment. This can include an upper endoscopy screening, which can assist with early detection and treatment.
Symptoms associated with gastric cancer include dark or bloody stools, a persistent sense of feeling full or bloated, abdominal pain, or persistent heartburn, nausea, or indigestion. These symptoms should always be brought to the attention of a physician.
Opdivo is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) immune checkpoint inhibitor that is designed to uniquely harness the body’s own immune system to help restore anti-tumor immune response. By harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer, Opdivo has become an important treatment option across multiple cancers.
The current clinical trial directly compared Opdivo’s to placebo individuals with very advanced gastric cancer. The therapy was well tolerated and 11% of Opdivo treated patients experienced a response to treatment. Approximately 27% of patients survived 12-month from treatment compared to only 10.9% in the placebo group.
These results demonstrated a clear clinical benefit with Opdivo for patients with pretreated advanced or recurrent gastric cancer and establish a strong basis for conducting additional studies with Opdivo as a treatment for patients with gastric cancer alone or in combination with other medicines.
Reference: The ONO-4538-12 data are being presented today in a late-breaking oral presentation from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. PST (Abstract #2) at the 2017 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco, Calif.