STOMACH CANCER: RARE AND CHALLENGING
Cancer of the actual J-shaped stomach organ, located in the upper abdomen, is much less common in the United States than in Japan, Eastern Europe, South America and parts of the Middle East. It can begin anywhere in the organ but the most common, Adenocarcinomas, starts in the mucosa (the stomach’s lining). Slow growing with no distinguishable symptoms, stomach cancer often goes undiagnosed for many years until it is in stage III or IV of the disease and has spread beyond the wall to nearby lymph nodes and organs such as the esophagus, liver, pancreas and colon. Our statewide physician network includes specialists in stomach cancer (gastric cancer) and other gastrointestinal cancers so if you or someone you love has been diagnosed with this rare disease you can take comfort in knowing that your care is being managed by an experienced professional knowledgeable in the most advanced treatment options.
Clinical research trials represent some of the most advanced treatment options. Click here to learn more.
STANDARD AND INNOVATIVE TREATMENT OPTIONS
Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are all considered standard treatment options for all stages of stomach cancer. Our doctors are networked with and will refer you to highly skilled surgical oncologists experienced in the finesse of stomach surgery. Prior to surgery your medical oncologist may prescribe chemotherapy treatment to help shrink the tumor. This type of therapy is called neoadjuvant therapy. Chemotherapy given after surgery to destroy any remaining cancerous cells is called adjuvant therapy. Chemoradiation is when you receive both chemotherapy and radiation therapy within the same time period either as neoadjuvant or adjuvant therapy. Innovative treatment options for the treatment of stomach cancer utilize personalized medicine and targeted therapies. Personalized medicine identifies the genetics of your particular tumor and uses this information to customize your treatment using targeted therapy drugs. Targeted cancer therapies then block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with the survival of these specific molecular targets. Herceptin, a targeted therapy used for years to treat breast cancer is now being used to treat patients with advanced stomach cancer found to carry the HER2 gene. It is often used in combination with one or more traditional chemotherapy drugs. Other drugs that target HER2 now being studied in clinical trials include lapatinib (Tykerb®), pertuzumab (Perjeta®), and trastuzumab emtansine (Kadcyla®).
CLINICAL TRIAL PARTICIPATION
Through our affiliation with US Oncology, our national research partner, clinical research trials are available to answer scientific questions and find new and better therapies for treating cancer. Much of the research around gastric cancers is looking at combining targeted agents with chemotherapy or with each other. Newer oral chemotherapy drugs available in other parts of the world, but not yet in the United States are also being studied. Clinical trials are also evaluating the effects of neoadjuvant or adjuvant chemoradiaton therapy on surgical results and new ways of delivering chemo, including direct infusion into the abdomen.