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According to a press release by Roche, the chemotherapy agent Xeloda® (capecitabine) appears to be just as effective as 5-fluorouracil in the treatment of advanced gastric cancer when used in combination with Platinol® (cisplatin).

Gastric (stomach) cancer is the 14th most common cancer in the U.S. Approximately 90% of gastric cancers are classified as adenocarcinomas; the classification refers to the type of cell where the cancer developed. Only 10-20% of patients in the U.S. who are diagnosed with gastric cancer have early-stage cancer; the majority is diagnosed with advanced disease.

Metastatic gastric cancer refers to cancer that has spread to several and/or distant sites in the body. Treatment for metastatic gastric cancer is often not intended to cure the patient, but is rather aimed at improving their quality of life and extending their survival.

The main component of treatment for patients who cannot have their cancer surgically removed due to extent of spread or location of the cancer is chemotherapy. Researchers continue to evaluate and compare newer chemotherapy regimens for the treatment of metastatic gastric cancer in order to improve survival.

The chemotherapy agent 5-fluorouracil is commonly used in the treatment of gastric cancer. 5-fluorouracil is administered intravenously (into a vein); this results in increased pain, time for administration, potential for infection, and potential for increased medical costs.

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Xeloda is a chemotherapy agent that is administered orally. It is converted into the active form of 5-fluorouracil through the body’s metabolic processes. Xeloda’s effectiveness in various types of cancer continues to be compared to 5-fluorouracil.

Researchers recently conducted a phase III trial (phase of trial prior to FDA review) to directly compare 5-fluorouracil plus cisplatin to Xeloda plus cisplatin in the treatment of advanced gastric cancer.

Overall, Xeloda plus cisplatin was at least as effective in terms of time to cancer progression as 5-fluorouracil plus cisplatin.

Full results of this study are expected to be presented at the 2006 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in June 2006.

Reference: Roche. Oral chemotherapy Xeloda shown to be effective in stomach cancer. Available at: Accessed April 2006.