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Cancer Res Treat. 2005 Apr;37(2):79-86. English. Review.
Kim YH .
Department of Internal Medicine, Korea University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Gastric cancer remains a significant problem in terms of global health, and is the most common cancer in Korea. Surgery is the only potentially curative treatment for localized gastric cancer, but most cases present at an advanced stage. Randomized trials have demonstrated that chemotherapy for advanced gastric cancer improves the quality of life and extends survival, by 4~6 months, compared with best supportive care alone. Single agents with a proven activity in a first-line setting include 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), doxorubicin, mitomycin C, cisplatin, taxanes (docetaxel and paclitaxel) and oral fluoropyrimidines (capecitabine and TS-1). Based on the results from several large scale randomized trials, FP (5-FU/cisplatin) and ECF (epirubicin/cisplatin/5-FU) combinations are the most widely used regimen against advanced gastric cancer. Phase II studies of the FP and ECF combination reported a 40~51% response rate in previously untreated patients, and this regimen also produced a significantly higherresponse rate than the FAM (5-FU/doxorubicin/ mitomycin) and FAMTX (5-FU/doxorubicin/methotrexate) regimens, respectively. However, significant treatment related- toxicities and discomfort were reported from ECF, which prevents this combination from becoming the standard treatment regimen. While no one combination chemotherapy regimen is accepted as the standard for advanced gastric cancer, FP is currently considered a suitable reference regimen worldwide. New agents, such as taxane, irinotecan and oxaliplatin, combined with old agents, such as cisplatin and 5-FU, are currently under evaluation to further improve treatment outcomes. Also, oral 5-FU prodrugs are replacing the cumbersome 5-FU long-term infusion due to its convenience and superior toxicity profile. However, the low complete response rate and short response duration are still the main obstacles in the chemotherapy for gastric cancer. Only large scale comparative clinical trials will give clues to improve the results of gastric cancer treatments.

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