Patients with stage IV gastric cancer have cancer that has spread to distant sites.
A variety of factors ultimately influence a patient’s decision to receive treatment of cancer. The purpose of receiving cancer treatment may be to improve symptoms through local control of the cancer, increase a patient’s chance of cure, or prolong a patient’s survival. The potential benefits of receiving cancer treatment must be carefully balanced with the potential risks of receiving cancer treatment.
The following is a general overview of the treatment of stage IV gastric cancer. Circumstances unique to your situation and prognostic factors of your cancer may ultimately influence how these general treatment principles are applied. The information on this Web site is intended to help educate you about your treatment options and to facilitate a mutual or shared decision-making process with your treating cancer physician.
Most new treatments are developed in clinical trials. Clinical trials are studies that evaluate the effectiveness of new drugs or treatment strategies. The development of more effective cancer treatments requires that new and innovative therapies be evaluated with cancer patients. Participation in a clinical trial may offer access to better treatments and advance the existing knowledge about treatment of this cancer. Clinical trials are available for most stages of cancer. Patients who are interested in participating in a clinical trial should discuss the risks and benefits of clinical trials with their physician. To ensure that you are receiving the optimal treatment of your cancer, it is important to stay informed and follow the cancer news in order to learn about new treatments and the results of clinical trials.
Optimal treatment for some patients with stage IV gastric cancer often requires more than one therapeutic approach. Thus, it is important for patients to be treated at a medical center that can offer multi-modality treatment involving medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgeons, gastroenterologists and nutritionists.
For patients with Stage IV gastric cancer, surgery may be performed in order to reduce bleeding or to keep the cancer from obstructing the intestines or stomach. To learn more about surgical treatment, go to Surgery and Gastric Cancer .
Chemotherapy can relieve symptoms and extend survival among patients with advanced gastric cancer. Several chemotherapy regimens are available, and the choice of which to use depends in part on the patient’s health. Chemotherapy may be used in combination with other treatments such as targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and/or surgery.
Targeted therapies are drugs that interfere with specific pathways involved in the growth or spread of cancer. In the case of some gastric cancers, a protein known as HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) contributes to cancer growth. Metastatic gastric cancers that test positive for HER2 may be treated with a HER2-targeting drug called Herceptin® (trastuzumab). Herceptin is often used in combination with chemotherapy, and can prolong survival with advanced, HER2-positive gastric cancer. Managing Side Effects .