Adenocarcinoma associated with gastric (stomach) cancer is more common in Asian than North America people and tends to occur in men over 40. Risk factors include smoking, H. pylori, and diet. Asian countries also tend to have larger amounts of smoked foods, salted fish and meat, and pickled vegetables in their diet. Nitrates and nitrites are substances commonly found in cured meats and can be converted by bacteria, such as H. pylori, into compounds that have been shown to cause stomach cancer in animals.

According to the NIH cancer statistics, it was estimated that there would be approximately 22,000 new cases in the US in 2014 and 11,000 deaths.

Treatment of advanced gastric cancer typically involves chemotherapy, or in cases where the patient is HER2+, with the monoclonal antibody, trastuzumab (Herceptin).

Numerous trials with EGFR inhibitors and also multi-kinase blockers have unfortunately proven fruitless and largely negative, with the exception of ramucirumab (Cyramza), a VEGF antibody, which was approved earlier this year for the treatment of both gastric and gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma by the FDA.

At the recent ESMO conference in Madrid, initial results from several early studies were presented on gastric cancer, with vastly different results. In this post, we take a deeper look at the new data, including the novel checkpoint inhibitors, and where R&D might be heading in this dynamic space.

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