Background: Salvage systemic therapy has become the new standard of care in patients with advanced gastric and oesophago-gastric junction (OGJ) adenocarcinoma, following disease progression on first-line fluoropyrimidine and platinum-containing chemotherapy. Pharmacological agents proven to be effective in this setting include both chemotherapy and biological therapy, however, the consensus on the best salvage systemic therapy has not been reached. Objectives: To assess the effects of systemic chemotherapy and biological therapy, either alone or in combination, on overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) in patients with advanced gastric and OGJ adenocarcinoma, whose disease has progressed on, or relapsed after first-line fluoropyrimidine and platinum-containing chemotherapy. Adverse events (AEs), tumour response rate (TRR) and quality of life (QoL) associated with systemic chemotherapy and/or biological therapy were additionally assessed. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, trial registries and proceedings of the major oncology conferences up to October 2020. We additionally handsearched the reference lists of studies. No language restriction was applied. Selection criteria: We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing salvage systemic therapy (chemotherapy and/or biological therapy) and either another type of salvage systemic therapy, placebo, best supportive care (BSC) or no treatment in patients with gastric and OGJ adenocarcinoma refractory to first-line fluoropyrimidine and platinum-containing chemotherapy. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently performed selection of eligible studies and the primary author extracted study characteristics and outcome data from included studies. We assessed the quality and risk of bias of eligible studies according to the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. We expressed pooled estimates of effect using hazard ratio (HR) calculated using an inverse variance random-effects model for time-to-event data, and risk ratio (RR) calculated using Mantel-Haenszel random-effects model for binary data. The certainty of evidence was graded using GRADEpro. Main results: We identified 17 RCTs with 5110 participants for inclusion in this review. Tweenty-nine studies are ongoing and twenty studies are awaiting classification. No studies examined the following comparisons: chemotherapy combined with biological therapy versus placebo, BSC or no treatment, chemotherapy combined with biological therapy versus biological therapy, biological therapy versus biological therapy and chemotherapy combined with biological therapy versus chemotherapy combined with biological therapy. Chemotherapy versus placebo, best supportive care or no treatment. Chemotherapy probably improves OS (HR = 0.66, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.83, moderate-certainty evidence) based on two studies involving 547 participants and improves PFS (HR = 0.57, 95% CI 0.47 to 0.69, high-certainty evidence) based on one study involving 507 participants over placebo and BSC. Chemotherapy probably increases serious AEs (SAEs) (RR = 1.38, 95% CI 1.20 to 1.59, moderate-certainty evidence) based on one study involving 503 participants. Biological therapy versus placebo, best supportive care or no treatment. Biological therapy improves OS (HR = 0.55, 95% CI 0.41 to 0.73, high-certainty evidence) and probably improves PFS (HR = 0.33, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.57, moderate-certainty evidence) over placebo based on three studies involving 781 participants. There is currently insufficient evidence for increased SAEs from biological therapy (RR = 1.14, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.37, low-certainty evidence) based on two studies involving 638 participants. Chemotherapy versus biological therapy. This comparison only considered immunotherapy. There is probably no evidence of a difference for OS (HR = 0.82, 95% CI 0.66 to 1.02, moderate-certainty evidence) between chemotherapy and immunotherapy, and immunotherapy probably reduces PFS (HR = 1.27, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.57, moderate-certainty evidence) based on one study involving 395 participants. SAEs may be less frequent with immunotherapy compared to chemotherapy (RR = 0.41, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.57, low-certainty evidence). Chemotherapy combined with biological therapy versus chemotherapy. Addition of biological therapy to chemotherapy probably does not improve OS (HR = 0.93, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.04, moderate-certainty evidence) and we are uncertain whether it improves PFS (HR = 0.87, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.02, very low-certainty evidence) based on seven studies involving 2743 participants. We are similarly uncertain whether combined chemotherapy and biological therapy increases SAEs (RR = 1.17, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.44, very low-certainty evidence) based on four studies involving 1618 participants. Chemotherapy versus chemotherapy. There is no evidence of a difference for OS and PFS between irinotecan and paclitaxel (HR = 1.13, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.48, low-certainty evidence for OS; HR = 1.14, 95% CI 0.88 to 1.48, low-certainty evidence for PFS) based on one study involving 219 participants. Similarly, there is no evidence to indicate improved OS and PFS from addition of another chemotherapy to docetaxel (HR = 1.05, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.54, low-certainty evidence for OS; HR = 0.75, 95% CI 0.52 to 1.09, low-certainty evidence for PFS) based on two studies involving 121 participants. Grade ≥ 3 neutropenia occurred commonly with both mono- and poly-chemotherapy except for docetaxel-S1 and EOX chemotherapy. Authors' conclusions: Survival outcome of patients with advanced gastric and OGJ adenocarcinoma whose disease progressed on first-line fluoropyrimidine and platinum-containing chemotherapy can be improved by chemotherapy and biological therapy. Biological therapy, in particular, achieves this without clear increase in SAEs or QoL impairment. Whether biological therapy is preferred over chemotherapy is still unclear and there is no evidence of a difference for OS outcome, although immunotherapy may be associated with less SAEs. Addition of biological therapy to chemotherapy and poly-chemotherapy are associated with frequent treatment-related toxicity without clear survival benefit.
Tomita, Y., Moldovan, M., Chang Lee, R., Hsieh, A. H. C., Townsend, A., & Price, T. (2020, November 19). Salvage systemic therapy for advanced gastric and oesophago-gastric junction adenocarcinoma. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD012078.pub2