NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 7, 2006

Patients with stomach cancer who receive chemotherapy before and after surgery can reduce their risk of death by one-fourth, according to a study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study, led by David Cunningham of Royal Marsden Hospital in Britain and supported by the British Medical Research Council, examined 503 patients with operable stomach cancer or cancer of the esophagus. 

According to the researchers:

  • After five years, 36 percent of participants who received chemotherapy before and after surgery survived, compared with 23 percent of those who only underwent surgery.
  • Participants who received chemotherapy -- a combination of epirubicin, cisplatin and fluorouracil developed in the 1980s -- experienced similar side effects as those previously reported by patients with stomach cancer.

According to observers, the study provides the "most substantial clinical evidence in support of preoperative therapy for stomach cancer patients." 

Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, said, "The message to patients is this: If you have a diagnosis that you have cancer of the stomach, you really need to be seen by an oncologist before your surgery."

Source: David Cunningham et al., "Perioperative Chemotherapy versus Surgery Alone for Resectable Gastroesophageal Cancer," New England Journal of Medicine, vol 355, no. 1, July 6, 2006.

For abstract:


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