What is the role of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in the management of gastric cancer?

Updated: May 21, 2019
  • Author: Elwyn C Cabebe, MD; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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Neoadjuvant chemotherapy may allow downstaging of disease to increase resectability, decrease micrometastatic disease burden prior to surgery, allow patient tolerability prior to surgery, determine chemotherapy sensitivity, reduce the rate of local and distant recurrences, and ultimately improve survival.

A European randomized trial also demonstrated survival benefit when patients were treated with three cycles of preoperative chemotherapy (epirubicin, cisplatin, and 5-fluorouracil) followed by surgery and then three cycles of postoperative chemotherapy compared with surgery alone. The benefit was comparable to that obtained with postoperative chemoradiation in the US trial. [7] However, the Gastric Chemotherapy Group for Japan did not demonstrate a significant survival benefit with neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Choice of preoperative and postoperative chemotherapy versus postoperative chemotherapy and radiation remains controversial, and an ongoing United States Intergroup study, CALGB 80101, will look more closely at that question.

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