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Cancer Health Center

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Gastric Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage IV and Recurrent Gastric Cancer


When patients develop progression of disease after first-line chemotherapy, there is no standard treatment option. Investigators in Korea randomly assigned patients with advanced gastric cancer who had received one or two prior chemotherapy regimens involving both a fluoropyrimidine and a platinum agent to either salvage chemotherapy or best supportive care in a 2:1 fashion.[19] Salvage chemotherapy consisted of either docetaxel (60 mg/m2 every 3 weeks) or irinotecan (150 mg/m2 every 2 weeks) and was left to the discretion of the treating physicians. Of the 202 patients enrolled, 133 received salvage chemotherapy and 69 received best supportive care. Median OS was 5.3 months in the group that received salvage chemotherapy and 3.8 months in the group that received best supportive care (HR, 0.657; P = .007). There was no difference in median OS between docetaxel and irinotecan (5.2 months vs. 6.5 months, P = .116).[19][Level of evidence: 1iiA]

Treatment options under clinical evaluation:

  • Palliative chemotherapy with:
    • Irinotecan and cisplatin.
    • Folic acid, 5-FU, and irinotecan (FOLFIRI).
    • Leucovorin, 5-FU, and oxaliplatin (FOLFOX).

Phase II studies evaluating irinotecan-based or oxaliplatin-based regimens demonstrate similar response rates and TTP to those found with ECF or CF, but the former may be less toxic.[20,21,22,23,24,25] There are conflicting data regarding relative efficacy of any one regimen for another. Ongoing studies are evaluating these newer regimens.

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage IV gastric cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


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  2. Cullinan SA, Moertel CG, Fleming TR, et al.: A comparison of three chemotherapeutic regimens in the treatment of advanced pancreatic and gastric carcinoma. Fluorouracil vs fluorouracil and doxorubicin vs fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and mitomycin. JAMA 253 (14): 2061-7, 1985.
  3. Ohtsu A, Shimada Y, Shirao K, et al.: Randomized phase III trial of fluorouracil alone versus fluorouracil plus cisplatin versus uracil and tegafur plus mitomycin in patients with unresectable, advanced gastric cancer: The Japan Clinical Oncology Group Study (JCOG9205). J Clin Oncol 21 (1): 54-9, 2003.
  4. Waters JS, Norman A, Cunningham D, et al.: Long-term survival after epirubicin, cisplatin and fluorouracil for gastric cancer: results of a randomized trial. Br J Cancer 80 (1-2): 269-72, 1999.
  5. Ross P, Nicolson M, Cunningham D, et al.: Prospective randomized trial comparing mitomycin, cisplatin, and protracted venous-infusion fluorouracil (PVI 5-FU) With epirubicin, cisplatin, and PVI 5-FU in advanced esophagogastric cancer. J Clin Oncol 20 (8): 1996-2004, 2002.
  6. Cunningham D, Starling N, Rao S, et al.: Capecitabine and oxaliplatin for advanced esophagogastric cancer. N Engl J Med 358 (1): 36-46, 2008.
  7. Vanhoefer U, Rougier P, Wilke H, et al.: Final results of a randomized phase III trial of sequential high-dose methotrexate, fluorouracil, and doxorubicin versus etoposide, leucovorin, and fluorouracil versus infusional fluorouracil and cisplatin in advanced gastric cancer: A trial of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Gastrointestinal Tract Cancer Cooperative Group. J Clin Oncol 18 (14): 2648-57, 2000.
  8. Van Cutsem E, Moiseyenko VM, Tjulandin S, et al.: Phase III study of docetaxel and cisplatin plus fluorouracil compared with cisplatin and fluorouracil as first-line therapy for advanced gastric cancer: a report of the V325 Study Group. J Clin Oncol 24 (31): 4991-7, 2006.
  9. Ajani JA, Ota DM, Jackson DE: Current strategies in the management of locoregional and metastatic gastric carcinoma. Cancer 67 (1 Suppl): 260-5, 1991.
  10. Ell C, Hochberger J, May A, et al.: Coated and uncoated self-expanding metal stents for malignant stenosis in the upper GI tract: preliminary clinical experiences with Wallstents. Am J Gastroenterol 89 (9): 1496-500, 1994.
  11. Murad AM, Santiago FF, Petroianu A, et al.: Modified therapy with 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and methotrexate in advanced gastric cancer. Cancer 72 (1): 37-41, 1993.
  12. Pyrhönen S, Kuitunen T, Nyandoto P, et al.: Randomised comparison of fluorouracil, epidoxorubicin and methotrexate (FEMTX) plus supportive care with supportive care alone in patients with non-resectable gastric cancer. Br J Cancer 71 (3): 587-91, 1995.
  13. Glimelius B, Ekström K, Hoffman K, et al.: Randomized comparison between chemotherapy plus best supportive care with best supportive care in advanced gastric cancer. Ann Oncol 8 (2): 163-8, 1997.
  14. Wagner AD, Grothe W, Haerting J, et al.: Chemotherapy in advanced gastric cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis based on aggregate data. J Clin Oncol 24 (18): 2903-9, 2006.
  15. Webb A, Cunningham D, Scarffe JH, et al.: Randomized trial comparing epirubicin, cisplatin, and fluorouracil versus fluorouracil, doxorubicin, and methotrexate in advanced esophagogastric cancer. J Clin Oncol 15 (1): 261-7, 1997.
  16. Ajani JA, Moiseyenko VM, Tjulandin S, et al.: Clinical benefit with docetaxel plus fluorouracil and cisplatin compared with cisplatin and fluorouracil in a phase III trial of advanced gastric or gastroesophageal cancer adenocarcinoma: the V-325 Study Group. J Clin Oncol 25 (22): 3205-9, 2007.
  17. Ilson DH: Docetaxel, cisplatin, and fluorouracil in gastric cancer: does the punishment fit the crime? J Clin Oncol 25 (22): 3188-90, 2007.
  18. Bang YJ, Van Cutsem E, Feyereislova A, et al.: Trastuzumab in combination with chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone for treatment of HER2-positive advanced gastric or gastro-oesophageal junction cancer (ToGA): a phase 3, open-label, randomised controlled trial. Lancet 376 (9742): 687-97, 2010.
  19. Kang JH, Lee SI, Lim do H, et al.: Salvage chemotherapy for pretreated gastric cancer: a randomized phase III trial comparing chemotherapy plus best supportive care with best supportive care alone. J Clin Oncol 30 (13): 1513-8, 2012.
  20. Ilson DH, Saltz L, Enzinger P, et al.: Phase II trial of weekly irinotecan plus cisplatin in advanced esophageal cancer. J Clin Oncol 17 (10): 3270-5, 1999.
  21. Beretta E, Di Bartolomeo M, Buzzoni R, et al.: Irinotecan, fluorouracil and folinic acid (FOLFIRI) as effective treatment combination for patients with advanced gastric cancer in poor clinical condition. Tumori 92 (5): 379-83, 2006 Sep-Oct.
  22. Pozzo C, Barone C, Szanto J, et al.: Irinotecan in combination with 5-fluorouracil and folinic acid or with cisplatin in patients with advanced gastric or esophageal-gastric junction adenocarcinoma: results of a randomized phase II study. Ann Oncol 15 (12): 1773-81, 2004.
  23. Bouché O, Raoul JL, Bonnetain F, et al.: Randomized multicenter phase II trial of a biweekly regimen of fluorouracil and leucovorin (LV5FU2), LV5FU2 plus cisplatin, or LV5FU2 plus irinotecan in patients with previously untreated metastatic gastric cancer: a Federation Francophone de Cancerologie Digestive Group Study--FFCD 9803. J Clin Oncol 22 (21): 4319-28, 2004.
  24. Ajani JA, Baker J, Pisters PW, et al.: CPT-11 plus cisplatin in patients with advanced, untreated gastric or gastroesophageal junction carcinoma: results of a phase II study. Cancer 94 (3): 641-6, 2002.
  25. Cavanna L, Artioli F, Codignola C, et al.: Oxaliplatin in combination with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and leucovorin (LV) in patients with metastatic gastric cancer (MGC). Am J Clin Oncol 29 (4): 371-5, 2006.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: 8/, 015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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