Possible new treatment for stomach cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

A combination of pre and postoperative chemotherapy has been found to improve the survival rates of patients with stomach cancer over those who receive only surgery. The researchers, led by David Cunningham, an oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital, studied 503 patients and their findings were published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine. They used a regimen of epirubicin, cisplatin, and infused fluorouracil (ECF). Chemotherapy consisted of three preoperative and three postoperative cycles of intravenous epirubicin and cisplatin on day one, and a continuous intravenous infusion of fluorouracil for 21 days. Dr Cunningham hoped to show that using preoperative chemotherapy would kill hidden tumor cells to reduce the risk that the cancer would spread after surgery. It was also hoped tumours would be made smaller. The results showed that those who received chemotherapy had a 36 per cent survival rate in compared to 23 per cent for those who only received surgery. The tumours of those who received chemotherapy were also significantly smaller and less advanced. "This is the first time we've been able to demonstrate that chemotherapy alone significantly improves outcome," Dr Cunningham told Reuters.

For more information about stomach cancer, visit the CancerHelp UK website