Author(s): Ohtsu A, Yoshida S, Saijo N
There are still remarkable disparities in the treatment of gastric cancer between the East and West. Treatment outcomes for this disease have improved in Japan due to early detection and surgical resection with systematic node dissections, such as D2, whereas gastric cancer remains a virulent disease in Western countries. Differences in the types of surgery and their outcomes affect how adjuvant trials are conducted and interpreted. Recent Western randomized trials demonstrated the significant survival benefit of adjuvant chemoradiotherapy or intensive combination chemotherapy. However, baseline surgical quality and outcomes were quite different from those in Japan, and Japanese surgical/medical oncologists have not accepted the Western results. Several disparities are also evident in the results of chemotherapy trials for advanced gastric cancer. Although similar results were obtained with randomized studies using older regimens, the interpretation of the results differed between Japan and other countries. A combination of cisplatin and fluorouracil was used as the reference arm in ongoing randomized trials in most countries, whereas single-agent fluorouracil or S-1 alone was used in Japanese trials. Two triplet regimens have already demonstrated significant prolongation of survival in Western studies. However, these benefits seem to be marginal and these regimens may be replaced by newer regimens, which will soon be available in Europe and Asia, where a total of 2,600 patients have been accrued. Although these disparities between regions must be overcome, it is time for both Eastern and Western investigators to pursue further benefits by incorporating new agents into treatment regimens.