Targeted medications may be effective in some circumstances where regular chemo treatments are ineffective. They also have different adverse effects than normal stomach cancer chemo medicines.
Chemotherapy (chemo) medications operate against cancer cells because they target cells that divide quickly. Cancer cells, on the other hand, differ from normal cells in a number of ways. Researchers have created new medications in recent years to try to target these disparities.
On the surface of the cancer cells, about one out of every five stomach tumours has too much of a growth-promoting protein called HER2. HER2-positive tumours have high amounts of the protein HER2.
Herceptin (Trastuzumab) is a monoclonal antibody that targets the HER2 protein. It is a man-made version of a particularly specialised immune system protein. Some patients with advanced, HER2-positive stomach cancer may benefit from receiving trastuzumab in addition to chemotherapy.
This drug only works if the cancer cells have too much HER2, so before you start treatment, you should have samples of your tumour tested for HER2 (see Tests for Stomach Cancer). It is not used in patients with HER2-negative cancer.
Trastuzumab is given via an injection into a vein (IV). It is administered once every 2 or 3 weeks along with therapy for stomach cancer. It is unknown how long is the optimal time to provide it.
Trastuzumab has a comparatively low risk of adverse effects.
Fever and chills, weakness, nausea, vomiting, cough, diarrhoea, and headache are all possible symptoms.
After the initial dose, these side effects become less common. This medicine can possibly cause cardiac damage in rare cases. When trastuzumab is used with anthracycline chemotherapy medicines such epirubicin (Ellence) or doxorubicin, the risk of heart damage increases (Adriamycin).
In order for malignancies to grow and spread, new blood vessels must be formed in order for the tumours to receive blood and nutrients. VEGF is a protein that instructs the body to create new blood vessels. To act, VEGF attaches to cell surface proteins known as receptors. Ramucirumab (Cyramza®) is a VEGF receptor-binding monoclonal antibody. This prevents VEGF from connecting to the receptor and signalling the body to increase blood vessel production. This may aid in the slowing or halting of cancer growth and spread.
Ramucirumab is a medication that is used to treat advanced stomach cancer after another therapy has failed to work.
Every two weeks, this medicine is infused into a vein (IV).
High blood pressure, headaches, and diarrhoea are the most prevalent side effects of this medication.
Blood clots, severe bleeding, holes appearing in the stomach or intestines (perforations), and wound healing issues are all rare but potentially dangerous adverse effects. A hole in the stomach or intestine can cause serious infection and may necessitate surgery to repair.
Other targeted therapy drugs:
Other targeted treatment medications for stomach cancer are being explored. Some of them target the HER2 protein as well, whereas others have alternative targets in mind.