Overview of Gastric Cancer
Gastric cancer is a cancer or malignancy that develops in the stomach. It is often diagnosed late because many of its symptoms appear in the later stage of the disease. These include heartburn, nausea, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, general weakness and abdominal fullness. Patients also complain of passing out dark colored stools and vomiting blood. Risk factors for the development of the disease includes family history of cancer, H. pylori infection, smoking, obesity and history of gastric polyp.
The only cure for gastric cancer is gastrectomy or the surgical removal of the stomach. After surgery, some patients are also given additional treatment in the form of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. There are several FDA approved drugs for first line advanced gastric cancer that are available in the market. These drugs are used to destroy the cancer cells which were left after surgery, and also to prevent the cancer from coming back.
Approved FDA Drugs
Oxaliplatin is an anti-cancer or antineoplastic chemotherapy drug used to treat colon and gastric cancer that has metastasized or spread to other sites. It is often given in combination with other anticancer drugs. It is usually given via IV or intravenous as there is no pill form for this drug. The amount of drug to be infused depends on the the general health condition and the type of cancer the patient has. Possible side effects of this drug includes shortness of breath, fatigue, mouth sores, tingling of the feet and hands, jaw spasms, diarrhea and difficulty swallowing.
5-fluorouracil is used in patient with skin cancer, metastatic colorectal cancer, breast cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, liver cancer or ovarian cancer. It can be given in two routes: one is through IV infusion and the other as topical application. When using the infusion, the anti-cancer drug follows a certain protocol for the schedule of medication. It can be given from several hours to several days. While the topical Fluorouracil is given twice a day on the affected part and can last up to a few weeks. The amount of the anticancer drug that the patient will receives depends on the type of cancer and the general health condition of the patient.
The side effects of Fluorouracil and its severity will depend on the amount given and the reaction of the patient’s body to the drug. These are diarrhea, poor appetite, mouth sores, watery eyes, nausea, vomiting and hair thinning.
Cisplatin is used in the treatment of many types of cancer, such as bladder cancer, testicular cancer and gastric cancer. It is also used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs. Treatment is given over a period of several weeks. Side-effects of the drug include decrease in the number of red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells in the circulation. Patients temporarily experience tiredness, headaches, muscle aches, skin bruises and infections days after the treatment.
Capecitabin is an anticancer drug which comes in tablet form and often used combined with other drugs. The amount of drug to be taken usually depends on the type of cancer the patient has and the severity of his disease. The pills are usually taken 30 minutes after a meal. Side-effects are similar to cisplatin side-effects.
Epirubicin is administered to patients with gastric cancer, breast cancer and ovarian cancer. The treatment plan usually depends on the type of cancer, and are given through several cycles and in combination with other drugs. Just like all anticancer drugs, the side-effects of epirubicin administration also include decrease in all blood components which often lead to headaches, tiredness, skin bruises, frequent infections and muscle aches.
These drugs are usually given in combination with each other to achieve a better result. One combination of chemotherapy drugs for gastric cancer is composed of capecitabin, cisplatin and epirubicin.
Cancer Research UK: Chemotherapy drugs used for stomach cancer
Tirgan.com: Cancer of the Stomach