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Updates in Gastrointestinal Oncology – insights from the 2008 44th annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology

Milind Javle1 and Chung-Tsen Hsueh2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Gastrointestinal Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA

2 Division of Medical Oncology and Hematology, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA

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Journal of Hematology & Oncology 2009, 2:9  doi:10.1186/1756-8722-2-9

Published: 23 February 2009


We have reviewed the pivotal presentations rcelated to colorectal cancer (CRC) and other gastrointestinal malignancies from 2008 annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). We have discussed the scientific findings and the impact on practice guidelines and ongoing clinical trials. The report on KRAS status in patients with metastatic CRC receiving epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) targeted antibody treatment has led to a change in National Comprehensive Cancer Network guideline that recommends only patients with wild-type KRAS tumor should receive this treatment. The results of double biologics (bevacizumab and anti-EGFR antibody) plus chemotherapy as first-line treatment in patients with metastatic CRC has shown a worse outcome than bevacizumab-based regimen. Microsatellite Instability has again been confirmed to be an important predictor in patients with stage II colon cancer receiving adjuvant treatment.

Adjuvant gemcitabine therapy for pancreatic cancer was investigated by the CONKO-001 study; this resulted in superior survival as compared with observation and can be regarded as an acceptable option, without the addition of radiotherapy. The addition of bevacizumab to gemcitabine and erlotinib was not supior to gemcitabine and erlotinib for advanced disease. Second-line therapy for advanced pancreatic cancer with 5-fluorouracil and oxaliplatin resulted in a survival benefit. Irinotecan plus cisplatin and paclitaxel plus cisplatin result in similar survival when combined with radiotherapy for esophageal cancer. The novel fluoropyrimidine S1 appears to be active in gastric cancer, as a single agent or as combination therapy. Adjuvant intraperitoneal mitomycin-C may decrease the incidence of peritoneal recurrence of gastric cancer. Sorafenib is an effective agent in Asian patients with hepatocellular carcinoma secondary to hepatitis B; its utility in child's B cirrhosis remains to be proven. Sunitinib is also an active agent in hepatocellular carcinoma, and may represent an alterative to sorafenib for advanced disease. These and other important presentations from the 2008 ASCO annual meeting are discussed in this article.