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When a person is diagnosed with cancer of the stomach while it is still at a very early stage, treatment with surgery alone can often be curative. However, for an individual with more advanced stomach cancer, other treatments, such as chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy, may be needed to help relieve symptoms of the disease and prolong a patient’s survival. For the past few decades, the chemotherapy drug fluorouracil has been the primary therapy used for patients with stages of stomach cancer that are either locally advanced (spread within the stomach area) or metastasized (spread to other parts of the body). However, researchers continue to study other drugs and drug combinations that may further improve survival time and quality of life for persons with this disease. Early studies of a relatively new class of drugs called the taxanes, including the drugs paclitaxel and docetaxel, show that these agents may be the most active against cancers of the esophagus and stomach.

Doctors at Brown University have treated 27 patients with inoperable gastric cancer with paclitaxel and concurrent radiation therapy. The overall response rate was 56% including 11% with a complete response. At two years 29% of patients survive without progression of their cancer.

These doctors concluded that paclitaxel and radiation therapy has substantial activity for the local control of advanced gastric cancer. They suggest that future clinical trials combine paclitaxel and radiation with other local-regional and systemic treatments. ( International Journal of Oncology Biology and Physics, Vol 46, Issue No 4, 2000).

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