Although combination chemotherapy has been shown to be more effective than single agents in advanced esophagogastric cancer, the better response rates have not fulfilled their promise as overall survival times from best combination still range between 8 to 11 months. So far, the development of targeted therapies stays somewhat behind their integration into treatment concepts compared to other gastrointestinal diseases. Thus, the review summarizes the recent advances in the development of targeted therapies in advanced esophagogastric cancer. The majority of agents tested were angiogenesis inhibitors or agents targeting the epidermal growth factor receptors EGFR1 and HER2. For trastuzumab and bevacizumab, phase III trial results have been presented recently. While addition of trastuzumab to cisplatin/5-fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy results in a clinically relevant and statistically significant survival benefit in HER 2+ patients, the benefit of the addition of bevacizumab to chemotherapy was not significant. Thus, all patients with metastatic disease should be tested for HER-2 status in the tumor. Trastuzumab in combination with cisplatin/5-fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy is the new standard of care for patients with HER2-positive advanced gastric cancer.
Keywords: Gastric cancer, cetuximab, bevacizumab, multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitors, EGFR1, HER2, Oxaliplatin, docetaxel, capecitabine, irinotecan, trastuzumab, lapatinib
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