Join Clinical Trials for Stomach Cancer
Stomach cancer affects just over 20,000 individuals in the United States each year, most of whom are over the age of 70. Little is known about what exactly causes stomach cancer to develop, however a number of risk factors have been identified, including infection with a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori or (H. pylori), smoking, family history, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. So, clinical trials for stomach cancer tends to seek elderly volunteers more so than younger ones.
Nevertheless, many individuals who are diagnosed with stomach cancer have no known risk factors. There are several types of stomach cancer, the most common of which is adenocarcinoma.
Other types include lymphoma, carcinoid cancer, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (or GIST), however all of these types of stomach cancer are relatively rare compared to adenocarcinoma.
Fortunately, research related to stomach cancer is ongoing and researchers are working hard to identify the causes of it, as well as ways to prevent its development and treat it more effectively.
In addition to the ongoing clinical trials for stomach cancer, rates of stomach cancer are declining every year in the United States, which is encouraging news for both those with stomach cancer, and those who have known risk factors for its development.
What Will Clinical Trials for Stomach Cancer Be Like?
When participating in a stomach cancer clinical trial, there are a few basic tests and procedures you may receive; however, the ultimate design of the particular study will determine which specific procedures you will undergo. Some of the following tests and procedures may be used during stomach cancer clinical trials:
- Physical exam
- Endoscopy, a procedure during which a thin, flexible tube with a tiny light and camera at the end is passed down the throat and into the stomach.
- Computed tomography (CT scan, or “CAT scan”) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. These imaging procedures are non-invasive and provide detailed pictures of areas inside your body.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which is an imaging procedure that uses a radioactive sugar injected into the blood through a vein in the arm. This substance attaches to cancer cells in the body, making them visible when viewed by a special camera.
- Surgery, either to treat the cancer or for exploratory purposes to determine how far the cancer has spread from the stomach.
- If the study is evaluating a new type of medication or vaccine, blood and/or urine tests may be performed to monitor how your body metabolizes the medication or how effectively your body has responded to the vaccine.
- Quality of life assessments to evaluate how your cancer is impacting your ability to perform activities of daily living.
- Pain assessments
Typical Protocol for Clinical Trials for Stomach Cancer:
Despite its low prevalence, researchers continue to work hard to investigate numerous aspects of stomach cancer, including its causes, as well as ways to improve treatment. Sample clinical trials might include the following:
- A clinical trial that investigates whether individuals who are infected with H. pylori and who smoke are more likely to develop stomach cancer later in life than those who are infected with the bacterium but who do not smoke.
- A long-term clinical trial that investigates whether individuals at high risk of developing stomach cancer have a lower risk after long-term use of a nutritional supplement containing vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin A, and selenium.
- A study designed to determine if the long-term treatment of H. pylori infection with regular antibiotic therapy lowers an individual’s risk of developing stomach cancer.
- A clinical trial to compare the use of a minimally-invasive surgical technique with standard surgical treatment for stomach cancer to determine if the new technique a) has fewer side effects and b) results in a more complete removal of the tumor.
- A clinical trial to determine if using chemotherapy before standard surgical removal of stomach cancer is more effective in preventing recurrence of the cancer than standard surgery alone (i.e., without chemotherapy).
- A clinical trial to determine if standard chemotherapy plus a targeted therapy that attacks specific proteins within cancer cells is more effective at treating stomach cancer than standard chemotherapy alone.
A brief word about randomized trials and placebos:
Many clinical trials involve the comparison of an investigational treatment to a “standard” treatment. Some studies determine which therapy a patient receives through a process known as randomization, in which patients are randomly assigned to receive either the investigational treatment or the standard treatment.
On occasion, a trial will investigate the use of a standard treatment plus a new drug compared to standard treatment plus a placebo. Placebos are inactive or “sham” treatments that are identical in appearance to the active treatment but have no therapeutic value.
Placebos are necessary to help determine if adverse effects that occur during the clinical trial are the result of the investigational treatment or due to some other factor. They also allow researchers to measure the effects of the active treatment and observe what would have happened without it.
In rare instances where no standard therapy exists, or when a new drug is being evaluated for the first time in a specific cancer, the investigational treatment might be compared to a placebo alone. In these types of trials, those patients who are randomized to the placebo group do not receive an active treatment.
This is rarely done in cancer clinical trials; however it may occasionally be necessary from a scientific standpoint. Placebo-only trials will only be done when ethically appropriate and when patients have been adequately informed that they may end up receiving the placebo rather than the active treatment.
It is very important to note, however, that no one should ever participate in such a placebo trial when there is a widely available and highly effective standard treatment already in existence for their particular type of cancer and clinical situation.
Trial Eligibility and Medical Information Needed:
The type of clinical trial you may be eligible for often depends on many factors, including your disease stage, treatment history, and a variety of clinical findings. Therefore, it is important to know many details pertaining to your specific diagnosis when searching for clinical trials. Examples of the details you will want to have on hand include:
- The name, location, size, stage, and cell type of your cancer, as well as the locations of any metastases you have. Also know these details for any prior cancer you have had.
- Know your performance status, which estimates how well you perform normal activities of daily living. Examples: Karnofsky Performance Scale (KPS) and the ECOG scale.
- Know your treatment history, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and/or surgery.
- Know your blood cell counts, liver function test results, and kidney function test results.
Suggested Search Terms for Clinical Trials for Stomach Cancer:
Once you are ready to begin your search for stomach cancer clinical trials, it might be best to use the specific type of stomach cancer you have (e.g., adenocarcinoma or gastrointestinal stromal tumor [or even “GIST”]), followed by any one of the terms listed below. However, if that approach results in too few findings, try using “stomach cancer” rather than your stomach cancer type.
The following search terms may be of use when combined with either your specific stomach cancer type or the term:
“stomach cancer”: “treatment,” “chemotherapy,” “radiation therapy,” “management,” “surgery,” “advanced,” “immune therapy,” “helicobacter pylori,” “diet,” “screening,” “risk factors,” and “side effects,” “Clinical Trials for Stomach Cancer.”
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