Addition of docetaxel ups survival in esophageal and gastric cancers

Patients whose advanced esophageal or gastric cancers return after treatment often don't have many treatment options. Currently, physicians treat patients with second-line chemotherapy, but until now, there haven't been any large studies to really back up the strategy. Fortunately, the COUGAR-02 study shows that we're on the right track. In the phase 3 study, patients with advanced cancer whose disease had progressed within six months of chemotherapy received either docetaxel or active symptom control. The addition of docetaxel (Taxotere) improved median overall survival from 3.6 months to 5.2 months, and nearly half of patients' cancers were stabilized after chemotherapy. About 20 percent of patients did experience a severe toxicity, though. In light of the results, researchers hope doctaxel will be considered a new standard of treatment for patients with advanced esophageal or gastric cancer. The results were first announced this past January at the ASCO Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium.