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Find out about the latest UK research looking at stomach cancer.

Research into the causes of stomach cancer


Some people may inherit gene changes that increase their risk of developing stomach cancer. Researchers are looking at people diagnosed with stomach cancer at a young age and people with a family history of stomach cancer to see if they have genetic changes.


There are differences in the number of people developing stomach cancer around the world. Some countries have higher rates than others. We know from research that diet is a factor in this.

Researchers continue to look at diet and cancer, and how to reduce our risk.

Research into treatment for stomach cancer


Trials are looking at different chemotherapy drugs, either on their own or with other treatments such as biological therapies.

Researchers are looking at chemotherapy:
  • before and after surgery for stomach cancer
  • after initial chemotherapy for cancer that can’t be removed with surgery (maintenance therapy)
  • for advanced stomach cancer

Researchers are also looking at blood samples to see how certain structures within cell change before, during and after chemotherapy. This will help them to understand more about how chemotherapy affects cancer.

Biological therapies

Biological therapies are drugs that change the way that cells work. They can boost the body’s immune system to fight off or kill cancer cells, or they can also block the signals that tell cells to grow.

Researchers are looking at giving them on their own or with chemotherapy. So far this is mainly for advanced stomach cancer.

Monoclonal antibodies recognise abnormal proteins on cancer cells. They can:
  • change how the cancer cell works
  • take chemotherapy or radiation into the cancer cell to kill it
  • make it easier for the immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells

Types of monoclonal antibodies researchers are looking at for stomach cancer include pertuzumab and ramucirumab.

Immunotherapy uses your own immune system to kill cancer cells. Some monoclonal antibodies are also called immunotherapy. 

Another type of immunotherapy is T cell therapy. T cells are part of the immune system. Researchers are looking into making a change to T cells by adding a gene. They hope this will help the cells recognise and attack cancer cells that produce a particular protein.

Growth factor blocker drugs block proteins that make cells grow and multiply.

PARP inhibitors are drugs that block proteins that help cells repair their DNA.

Gene tests and tumour markers before treatment

Researchers are looking at genes in stomach cancers. They hope this will help them work out which treatment is best for each person.

They are also looking for tumour markers to see if they can help make decisions about treatment and how well it will work. 

Stopping cancer coming back

Research has shown that aspirin may can lower the risk of dying from cancer. It may can also lower the risk of some cancers spreading to other parts of the body.

A large Cancer Research UK trial is looking at whether aspirin can lower the risk of an early cancer coming back after treatment.

Last reviewed: 
10 Jul 2016
  • Gastric cancer
    The Lancet 2016 May 5
    Van Cutsem E and others

  • Cancer: Principles and practice of oncology (10 th edition)
    DeVita VT, Hellman S and Rosenberg SA
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

  • Randomised double blind placebo controlled phase 3 trial of apatinib in patients with chemotherapy refractory advanced or metastatic adenocarcinoma of the stomach or gastrooesophageal junction
    Li J and others
    Journal of Clinical Oncology 2016 May 34 (13): 1448-54

  • Randomised, double blind phase 2 trial with prospective classification by ATM protein level to evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of olaparib plus paclitaxel in patients with recurrent or metastatic gastric cancer
    Bang YJ and others
    Journal of Clinical Oncology 2015 Nov 33 (33): 3858-65

  • Aspirin and cancer risk: a quantitative review to 2011
    Bosetti C and others
    Annals of Oncology 2012 Jun 23 (6): 1403-15

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