Current and emerging therapies in unresectable and recurrent gastric cancer

World J Gastroenterol. 2016 May 28;22(20):4812-23. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i20.4812.


Gastric cancer is one of the most lethal cancers worldwide despite many advances and options in therapy. As it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, prognosis is poor with a median overall survival of less than twelve months. Chemotherapy remains the mainstay of treatment for these patients but it confers only a moderate survival advantage. There remains a need for new targeted treatment options and a way to better define patient populations who will benefit from these agents. In the past few years, there has been a better understanding of the biology, molecular profiling, and heterogeneity of gastric cancer. Our increased knowledge has led to the identification of gastric cancer subtypes and to the development of new targeted therapeutic agents. There are now two new targeted agents, trastuzumab and ramucirumab, that have recently been approved for the treatment of advanced and metastatic gastric cancer. There are also many other actively investigated targets, including epidermal growth factor receptor, the phosphatadylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin pathway, c-Met, poly ADP-ribose polymerase, and immune checkpoint inhibition. In this review, we discuss the current management of advanced gastric cancer as well as emerging targeted therapies and immunotherapy.

Keywords: Advanced gastric cancer; Human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2; Immunotherapy; Targeted therapy; Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Drug Design
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy / adverse effects
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local*
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics
  • Stomach Neoplasms / immunology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor