A moderate but statistically significant survival benefit was reported with the addition of chemotherapy to surgery in patients with resectable gastric cancer (gastric cancer that can be surgically removed). These findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Gastric cancer refers to cancer of the stomach. For patients with early-stage gastric cancer that can be surgically removed, several clinical trials have evaluated the effect of adjuvant (post-surgery) chemotherapy; results, however, have been somewhat inconsistent. To further explore the potential benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy in resectable gastric cancer, researchers combined information from previously published studies.
The combined analysis involved 17 clinical trials conducted over 30 years, with a total of 3,838 patients. The clinical trials all compared treatment with surgery alone to treatment with surgery followed by chemotherapy.
Patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy experienced better overall survival than patients who had surgery alone. Five-year overall survival was 55.3% in gastric cancer patients who had surgery and chemotherapy compared with 49.6% among those who had surgery alone.
Although these results suggest that adjuvant chemotherapy modestly improves survival in patients with resectable gastric cancer, questions remain about how best to treat this disease.