Stage III Gastric Cancer
Standard treatment options:
All patients with tumors that can be resected should undergo surgery. As many as 15% of selected stage III patients can be cured by surgery alone, particularly if lymph node involvement is minimal (<7 lymph nodes).
Postoperative chemoradiation therapy may be considered for patients with stage III gastric cancer. A prospective multi-institution phase III trial (SWOG-9008) evaluating postoperative combined chemoradiation therapy versus surgery alone in 556 patients with completely resected stage IB to stage IV (M0) adenocarcinoma of the stomach and gastroesophageal junction reported a significant survival benefit with adjuvant combined modality therapy.[Level of evidence: 1iiA] With a median follow-up of 5 years, median survival was 36 months for the adjuvant chemoradiation therapy group as compared to 27 months for the surgery-alone arm (P = .005). Three-year overall survival (OS) and relapse-free survival rates were 50% and 48%, respectively, with adjuvant chemoradiation therapy versus 41% and 31%, respectively, for surgery alone (P = .005). Because distant disease remains a significant concern, the aim of the Cancer and Leukemia Group B study (CALGB-80101), which is now closed, was to augment the postoperative chemoradiation regimen used in the SWOG-9008 trial, for example, and the preoperative chemotherapy and chemoradiation therapy regimen used, for example, in the RTOG-9904 trial, which is now completed.
Investigators in Europe evaluated the role of preoperative and postoperative chemotherapy without radiation therapy. In the randomized phase III trial (MRC-ST02), patients with stage II or higher adenocarcinoma of the stomach or of the lower third of the esophagus were assigned to receive three cycles of epirubicin, cisplatin, and continuous infusion 5-fluorouracil (ECF) before and after surgery or to receive surgery alone. Compared with the surgery group, the perioperative chemotherapy group had a significantly higher likelihood of progression-free survival (hazard ratio [HR] for progression, 0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53–0.81; P < .001) and of OS (HR for death, 0.75; 95% CI, 0.60–0.93; P = .009). Five-year OS was 36.3%; 95% CI, 29 to 43 for the perioperative chemotherapy group and 23%; 95% CI, 16.6 to 29.4 for the surgery group.[Level of evidence: 1iiA]
Japanese investigators randomly assigned 1,059 patients with stage II or III gastric cancer who had undergone a D2 gastrectomy to receive either 1 year of S-1, an oral fluoropyrimidine not available in the United States, or follow-up after surgery alone. Patients were randomized in a 1:1 fashion. The 3-year OS rate was 80.1% in the S-1 group and 70.1% in the surgery-only group. The HR for death in the S-1 group, as compared with the surgery-only group, was 0.68 (95% CI, 0.52–0.87; P = .003).[Level of evidence: 1iiA]
Subsequently, investigators in Asia evaluated the role of capecitabine/oxaliplatin as adjuvant therapy after gastric cancer resection. In the CLASSIC (NCT00411229) trial , 37 centers in South Korea, China, and Taiwan randomly assigned 1,035 patients with stage IIA, IIB, IIIA, or IIIB gastric cancer who had undergone a curative D2 gastrectomy to receive adjuvant chemotherapy (eight 3-week cycles of capecitabine plus oxaliplatin) or follow-up post-surgery alone. The 3-year disease-free survival rate was 74% in the chemotherapy group and 59% in the surgery-alone group (HR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.44–0.72; P < .0001). The 3-year OS was 83% in the chemotherapy group and 78% in the surgery-alone group (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.52–1.00; P = .0493).[Level of evidence: 1iiA] Further follow-up is anticipated.
Treatment options under clinical evaluation:
All newly diagnosed patients with stage III gastric cancer should be considered candidates for clinical trials.
Current Clinical Trials
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with stage III gastric cancer. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
- Macdonald JS, Smalley SR, Benedetti J, et al.: Chemoradiotherapy after surgery compared with surgery alone for adenocarcinoma of the stomach or gastroesophageal junction. N Engl J Med 345 (10): 725-30, 2001. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Cunningham D, Allum WH, Stenning SP, et al.: Perioperative chemotherapy versus surgery alone for resectable gastroesophageal cancer. N Engl J Med 355 (1): 11-20, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Sakuramoto S, Sasako M, Yamaguchi T, et al.: Adjuvant chemotherapy for gastric cancer with S-1, an oral fluoropyrimidine. N Engl J Med 357 (18): 1810-20, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Bang YJ, Kim YW, Yang HK, et al.: Adjuvant capecitabine and oxaliplatin for gastric cancer after D2 gastrectomy (CLASSIC): a phase 3 open-label, randomised controlled trial. Lancet 379 (9813): 315-21, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
- Fuchs C, Tepper JE, Niedwiecki D, et al.: Postoperative adjuvant chemoradiation for gastric or gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma using epirubicin, cisplatin, and infusional (CI) 5-FU (ECF) before and after CI 5-FU and radiotherapy (RT): interim toxicity results from Intergroup trial CALGB 80101. [Abstract] American Society of Clinical Oncology 2006 Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, 26-28 January 2006, San Francisco, California. A-61, 2006.
- Ajani JA, Winter K, Okawara GS, et al.: Phase II trial of preoperative chemoradiation in patients with localized gastric adenocarcinoma (RTOG 9904): quality of combined modality therapy and pathologic response. J Clin Oncol 24 (24): 3953-8, 2006. [PUBMED Abstract]