Targeted therapy for stomach cancer
This is a type of drug treatment that attacks specific features of cancer cells to stop the cancer growing and spreading.
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HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) is a protein that causes cancer cells to grow uncontrollably. If you have HER2 positive advanced stomach or gastro-oesophageal junction cancer, you may be given a targeted therapy drug called trastuzumab. This drug destroys the HER2 positive cancer cells or slows their growth. Trastuzumab is given with chemotherapy every three weeks through a drip into a vein.
Another targeted therapy drug called ramucirumab aims to reduce the blood supply to a tumour to slow or stop its growth. It has been approved to treat advanced stomach or gastro-oesophageal junction cancer that has not responded to chemotherapy. Ramucirumab is not subsidised on the PBS so it is expensive (as at October 2019).
Ask your doctor what side effects you may experience. Possible side effects of trastuzumab include fever and nausea. In some people, trastuzumab can affect the way the heart works. Possible side effects of ramucirumab include stomach cramps, diarrhoea and high blood pressure. Let your doctor know of any side effects immediately.
|You may be able to access other new drugs to treat stomach cancer through clinical trials. Talk to your doctor about the latest developments and whether there are any suitable clinical trials for you.|
Video: What is targeted therapy?
Prof David Watson, Senior Consultant Surgeon, Oesophago-gastric Surgery Unit, Flinders Medical Centre, and Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Surgery, Flinders University, SA; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Katie Benton, Advanced Dietitian, Cancer Care, Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, QLD; Alana Fitzgibbon, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Gastrointestinal Cancers, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; Christine Froude, Consumer; Dr Andrew Oar, Radiation Oncologist, Icon Cancer Centre, Gold Coast University Hospital, QLD; Dr Spiro Raftopoulos, Interventional Endoscopist and Consultant Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Grant Wilson, Consumer; Prof Desmond Yip, Clinical Director, Department of Medical Oncology, The Canberra Hospital, ACT. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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