One-Two Punch in the Cancer Gut

Metastatic gastric cancer may respond best to surgery and radiation therapy

(RxWiki News) Cancer that starts in and spreads from the stomach is called metastatic gastric cancer. Depending on the stage of the disease, there are various treatment options. A new study looked at the best treatment strategies.

Results showed that surgery and radiation helped metastatic gastric cancer patients live longer than patients who received only one type of treatment or none at all.

The authors noted that while an association was shown in this one study, larger studies are needed to confirm a cause and effect relationship.

Just over 21,500 Americans are affected by stomach cancer and nearly 11,000 people die of the disease. Chemotherapy is the standard of care for treating advanced cases of gastric cancer.

"If you have trouble holding your food down after eating, see your doctor."

Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida were led by Ravi Shridhar, MD, PhD, of the Radiation Oncology Department.

The team gathered information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database to analyze the most effective treatment options for advanced stomach cancer.

A total of 5,079 patients were identified. These individuals had been diagnosed with and treated for metastatic gastric cancer between 2004 and 2008.

Study participants were divided into four groups: 1) no treatment; 2) radiation only; 3) surgery alone; and 4) surgery and radiation.

The median survival was seven months for patients in group 1 who received no treatment; the two-year survival rate among these patients was 8.2 percent.

Those who received radiation only lived about eight months, and 8.9 percent of these patients were alive two years later.

Surgery-only patients lived about 10 months and had a two-year survival rate of 18.2 percent.

Patients who had both surgery and radiation lived significantly longer than those in the other groups – a median of 16 months, with a two-year survival rate of 31.7 percent.

The authors cautioned that these findings do not and should not constitute a recommendation for surgery and radiation in the treatment of advanced stomach cancer.

“Every patient is going to be different,” Dr. Shridhar said in a press release. “If a patient with metastatic gastric cancer is in good health and responds to chemotherapy, a discussion with radiation and surgical oncologists should take place to determine the role and sequence of radiation and surgery. If the patient has not responded to chemotherapy, surgery and radiation will likely hold no benefit.”

This study was published January 29 in the journal Cancer. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

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Review Date: 
February 27, 2013