Neoadjuvant chemotherapy for resectable gastric cancer – pro

Lay Summary: Questions remain about pre-surgery chemo and radiation in stomach cancer that can be resected without these treatments.

The practice of administering chemotherapy before surgery is referred to as neoadjuvant therapy. In theory, neoadjuvant chemotherapy can decrease the size of the cancer, thereby making it easier to remove with surgery. The major problems with this approach are the higher mortality rates that occur when radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy are administered before surgery and the delay of surgery for some patients who do not respond to therapy. In most but not all studies chemotherapy, radiation therapy or both given before surgery have not improved survival following surgery in patients with stage III gastric cancer. This may be related to the ineffectiveness of the drug combinations tested, which include various combination of 5-FU, doxorubicin and methotrexate. Many current clinical trials are directed at improving outcomes of patients with stage III gastric cancer by administering newer neoadjuvant treatment regimens containing taxane chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

There is insufficient evidence from randomized trials to recommend neoadjuvant chemotherapy, or neoadjuvant or adjuvant radiation therapy or immunotherapy, either alone or in combination, outside of a clinical trial

Gastrointestinal Cancer Disease Site Group. Earle CC, Maroun J, Zuraw L. Neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy for resectable gastric cancer [full report]. Toronto (ON): Cancer Care Ontario (CCO); 2003 May 21 [online update]. 21 p. (Practice guideline; no. 2-14). [79 references], stomach cancer.

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