New developments in the treatment of gastric carcinoma

Semin Oncol. 1990 Feb;17(1 Suppl 2):61-70.


The recent successes being achieved with combination chemotherapy regimens, such as FAMTX (fluorouracil [5-FU], doxorubicin, methotrexate), EAP (etoposide, doxorubicin, cisplatin), and ELF (etoposide, leucovorin, 5-FU), strongly indicate that gastric cancer is chemosensitive. With these regimens, objective remission rates of more than 50% were recorded, including approximately 10% complete remissions (CRs). Moreover, some of these CRs were histopathologically confirmed. The finding that locally advanced disease (LAD) and technically unresectable disease could be rendered resectable by preoperative chemotherapy (EAP) was important. Thirty-six patients with LAD had been treated in a phase II trial with preoperative EAP, inducing 24 (70%) overall remissions (two clinical CRs, six pathologic CRs, 16 partial remissions [PRs] in 35 evaluable patients. Twenty-one patients were disease-free after chemotherapy with or without second-look surgery. The median survival time was 18 months for all patients and 24 months for disease-free patients. At 30+ months, 21% of all patients are still living disease-free. The expected survival of patients with unresectable LAD is approximately 4 to 6 months without any treatment and 6 to 9 months with standard chemotherapy. Compared with the latter results, the preoperative use of effective regimens (eg, EAP) seems to improve prognosis of patients with LAD. Moreover, such a multimodal approach may increase the number of long-term survivors among patients with resectable gastric cancer, especially those whose stage indicates a high risk of relapse (stages IIIa or IIIb). However, partly because of the severe toxicities (myelosuppression, nausea/vomiting), a considerable number of patients cannot be treated with these new regimens for the following reasons: Two of three patients with gastrointestinal disease are older than 60 years. Nontumorous diseases of the cardiovascular system, kidney, and others are frequent in this age group and may complicate or even prevent treatment with aggressive regimens. Considering the predominantly palliative treatment intentions in far advanced (metastasized) gastric cancer, regimens with low toxicities and acceptable activity should be preferred. For these reasons, we developed and investigated the combination ELF in a phase II trial in elderly patients (greater than 65 years) and in patients with cardiac risks who could not be treated with anthracyclines. The overall response rate in 51 evaluable patients was 53% (27 of 51) including six clinical CRs (12%). The median remission duration was 9.5 months and the median survival time was 11 months. Tolerability was excellent. Only 16% and 4% of patients, respectively, experienced WHO grades 3 and 4 leukopenia. Nausea/vomiting and mucositis/stomatitis were mild.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Drug Evaluation
  • Etoposide / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Levoleucovorin
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Remission Induction
  • Reoperation
  • Stomach Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / mortality
  • Stomach Neoplasms / therapy
  • Survival Rate


  • Etoposide
  • Doxorubicin
  • Levoleucovorin
  • Cisplatin
  • Leucovorin
  • Fluorouracil

Supplementary concepts

  • EAP protocol
  • ELF protocol