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New stomach cancer therapy potentially more convenient and better tolerated

ORLANDO, Fla.-A new combination chemotherapy appears to battle advanced stomach cancer harder than other platinum-based therapies, while offering patients more convenience and potentially less discomfort, according to results announced at the 2005 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers studied the combination of a new drug, called S-1, and the platinum-based chemotherapy called cisplatin in patients with advanced gastric cancer.

Overall, 13 of the 20 patients (65 percent) evaluated so far in the phase II trial responded to the chemotherapy. That means tumors shrank in response to the drug.

"We believe the therapy has the potential to not only fight cancer more effectively, but also is easier for cancer patients to deal with," says study co-author and medical oncologist Heinz-Josef Lenz, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study was presented at ASCO by Jaffer A. Ajani, M.D., professor in gastrointestinal medical oncology at University of Texas/M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

In 2005, experts estimate that 21,860 Americans will be diagnosed with stomach cancer during 2005 and another 11,550 will die from the disease.

In addition to surgery, physicians today use a variety of chemotherapy drugs against stomach cancer. Yet researchers have not found a standard chemotherapy regimen that dramatically improves survival more than any other.

One commonly used drug is the traditional chemotherapy called 5-FU (5-fluorouracil). Studies have shown that when cisplatin is combined with 5-FU, cancer shrinks in 46 percent to 51 percent of stomach cancer patients. The combination of S-1 and cisplatin aims to take that a step further.

S-1 consists of a number of parts. One portion of S-1 actually breaks down into 5-FU in the body. At the same time, it contains another e
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Contact: Jon Weiner
jon.weiner@usc.edu
323-442-2830
University of Southern California
17-May-2005


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