About Gastric Cancer
Gastric cancer, also called “Stomach cancer”, starts when some of the cells constituting the inner part of the stomach start growing and proliferating without control. This abnormal growth creates a tumor that is cancerous. Usually gastric cancer grows slowly, along a course of many years.
Cause of Gastric Cancer
At the present it is still unknown why some people contract the disease, while others don’t. However, it is known that bacteria, named “H. pylori” may increase the chance of contracting stomach cancer, as well as a stomach inflammation known as “Gastritis”, long term anemia known as “Pernicious anemia” and the formation of polyps in the stomach.
- Feeling swollen after eating
- Mild nausea
- Loss of appetite
Gastric Cancer treatment objectives
The main objective of treatment is to slow down and control the disease’s progress and help reduce symptoms. For metastatic melanoma stage 4 the primary objective is to prolong life and improve patient’s quality of life.
The treatment will be determined according to a number of factors, including tumor size, location and stage of the disease, whether it is a recurrent disease or not and the general status of the patient.
The goal of treating local cancer, not metastatic, is to remove and eradicate the tumor completely.
In metastatic stage 4 disease, the primary objective of the treatment is to slow down and control disease progression and help reduce symptoms as well prolong life and improve patient’s quality of life.
A number of therapies are possible, and many patients shall receive more than one type of therapy.
The purpose is to remove the tumor and the area adjacent to it. The tumor will be studied under the microscope to identify and diagnose the type of cancer.
Two main types of treatment may be offered to patients before and after surgery:
- Treatment prior to surgery is known as ‘Neoadjuvant
Usually this stage of treatment will involve chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy intended to reduce the tumor’s size and improve the success of surgery.
- Post-surgery treatment, also known as ‘Adjuvant’
This treatment seeks to cure and prevent the appearance of metastases or recurrence of the tumor.
This involves use of radiation at higher levels of energy. Radiation therapy aims to kill the cancer cells remaining in the post-operative. Radiation may also cause decelerated growth of the localized tumor remaining, or local recurrence.
Chemotherapy is a medicated therapy which aims to shrink and erase cancerous cells and allow control over the disease.
Chemotherapy carries serious side effects, while its effectiveness is insufficient.
Chemotherapy’s impact has a range of side effects such as hair loss, loss of appetite, changes to bowel movements, fatigue, infection, hemorrhaging, incontinence, pain, and more.
Examples of chemotherapy treatments for kidney cancer
- 5-FU, Flourouracil
- Xeloda® , Capecitabine
- Herceptin®, Trastuzumab, – An antibody that is suitable for treatment in gastric cancer patients whose cancer cells express on their surface a protein called HER2 or ERBB2 which accounts for about 17% of all stomach cancer patients
- Cyramza®, Ramucirumab
Immunotherapy drugs assist the immune system in attacking the tumor. This type of treatment is very different from chemotherapy, for example, which directly attacks the cancerous cells but unfortunately also damages healthy tissues.
The immune system has “immune barriers” which serve to regulate the immune system and prevent it from attacking the body. In cancer these functions are readily activated and as a result, the immune system ceases to attack cancerous cells, enabling the tumor to grow and proliferate in the body.
Barriers known as PD-L1, PD-1 and CTLA-4 are found on T-cells and cancer cells.
Immunotherapy is a revolutionary strategy, and one of the most widely studied worldwide for its application to numerous types of cancer and various stages of the disease’s development. Treatment is generally provided in the form of an intravenous infusion.
Examples of immunotherapy drugs for gastric cancer patients
- Keytruda®, Pembrolizumab
Clinical trials for gastric cancer
- The existing therapies used on stage 4 metastatic gastric cancer are not curative, and this is a source to the need for innovative and effective treatment strategies in order to fight the disease.
- The National Cancer Institute, NCI, highlights the fact that for a certain group of gastric cancer patients, the best treatment option is to join one of the many clinical trials existing worldwide aiming to increase their chances of therapeutic success.
- Currently, every patient will be offered the standard protocols described above. Sometimes the oncologist may suggest integrating these therapies with trials carried out in the institute.
- Advances in cancer therapies may be found in clinical trials prescribing cutting edge, innovative drugs, some of which have already been recognized by the US Food & Drug Administration, the FDA, as “breakthrough drugs” and require further information to be approved.
- An entire world of clinical trials, Compassionate drugs and advanced new cancer treatments are available worldwide.
- It is important to know and have access to cutting edge cancer treatments that best match the unique medical condition of the patient and increase chances in winning the fight against compared to the standard care offered.
Note to remember!
Not every patient is eligible to enter a specific clinical trial. The eligibility conditions must be fully met and each case is reviewed separately to ensure that the clinical trial matches to the specific cancer patient and vice versa.
This information is provided as a source of knowledge and does not constitute a medical consultation. For professional medical advice, see your attending physician. Information regarding drugs and commercial names belongs to the pharmaceutical companies
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