Purpose: This systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to assess the efficacy and tolerability of chemotherapy in patients with advanced gastric cancer. Methods: Randomized phase II and III clinical trials on first-line chemotherapy in advanced gastric cancer were identified by electronic searches of Medline, Embase, the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register, and Cancerlit; hand searches of relevant abstract books and reference lists; and contact to experts. Meta-analysis was performed using the fixed-effect model. Overall survival, reported as hazard ratio (HR) with 95% CI, was the primary outcome measure. Results: Analysis of chemotherapy versus best supportive care (HR = 0.39; 95% CI, 0.28 to 0.52) and combination versus single agent, mainly fluorouracil (FU) -based chemotherapy (HR = 0.83; 95% CI = 0.74 to 0.93) showed significant overall survival benefits in favor of chemotherapy and combination chemotherapy, respectively. In addition, comparisons of FU/cisplatin-containing regimens with versus without anthracyclines (HR = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.62 to 0.95) and FU/anthracycline-containing combinations with versus without cisplatin (HR = 0.83; 95% CI, 0.76 to 0.91) both demonstrated a significant survival benefit for the three-drug combination. Comparing irinotecan-containing versus nonirinotecan-containing combinations (mainly FU/cisplatin) resulted in a nonsignificant survival benefit in favor of the irinotecan-containing regimens (HR = 0.88; 95% CI, 0.73 to 1.06), but they have never been compared against a three-drug combination. Conclusion: Best survival results are achieved with three-drug regimens containing FU, an anthracycline, and cisplatin. Among these, regimens including FU as bolus exhibit a higher rate of toxic deaths than regimens using a continuous infusion of FU, such as epirubicin, cisplatin, and continuous-infusion FU.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research