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Targeted therapy set to change treatment paradigm in stomach cancer


Roche today announced results from a major international study which show that adding Herceptin (trastuzumab) to standard chemotherapy significantly prolongs lives of patients with HER2-positive stomach (gastric) cancer.

The results are from ToGA, a large international phase III trial investigating the benefit of Herceptin as the first therapy for patients with advanced and inoperable stomach cancer (first line).

Full data will be presented at an upcoming medical meeting.

“Stomach cancer is often incredibly hard to treat, as it is frequently diagnosed at a late stage” said principle investigator Prof Eric Van Cutsem, University Hospital Gasthuisberg in Leuven, Belgium.

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“Based on the clear positive outcome from this clinical study, the addition of Herceptin to chemotherapy offers a new important option for patients with HER2-positive stomach cancer as Herceptin extends survival and will bring this
group of patients a significant benefit.”

Stomach cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the world with over 900,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Early diagnosis is difficult because most patients do not show symptoms in the early stage. Advanced stomach cancer is associated with a poor prognosis, the average time patients survive after diagnosis is approximately 10 months with currently available therapies. Approximately 22% of stomach tumours overexpress HER2.

“Herceptin was a breakthrough treatment for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer and has become the
foundation of care across all stages of HER2-positive breast cancer”, said William M Burns, CEO of Roche’s
Pharmaceuticals Division.

“The ToGA study shows for the first time that Herceptin extends the lives of patients in a cancer other than breast cancer. Advanced stomach cancer is a devastating disease for which there are currently few treatment options. Consequently, the targeted therapy Herceptin will become an integral part of treatment for this type of cancer.”


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