April is Oesophageal Cancer Awareness Month

Gastric and oesophageal cancers treatments

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy targets specific molecules in the tumour, usually with the aim of blocking the growth and spread of cancer cells, while limiting damage to healthy cells.

Treatments that target HER2

HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) is a gene that, when deregulated, can play a role in the development of certain cancers. Some oesophageal and gastric cancers have too much of the HER2 gene product, known as a protein, on the surface of their cells, which can help cancer cells grow. These are known as HER2-positive cancers.

Trastuzumab is a type of targeted treatment known as a monoclonal antibody, which specifically targets HER2. It is used to treat some HER2-positive gastric cancers and cancers of the gastro-oesophageal junction (the place where the oesophagus and stomach meet).

Trastuzumab deruxtecan is a type of targeted treatment known as an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC). This is a monoclonal antibody (trastuzumab) attached to a chemotherapy drug. It is a targeted way of directing the chemotherapy to the right place. It is currently only approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, so is not yet available in Europe. It is sometimes used in the US to treat advanced HER2-positive gastro-oesophageal junction cancers.

Treatments that target VEGF/Anti-angiogenesis treatments

Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a protein that helps tumours form new blood vessels (a process known as angiogenesis) to get nutrients they need to grow. Anti-VEGF treatments aim to starve the tumour of the nutrients it needs to grow and spread. Anti-angiogenesis therapies approved in Europe for use in gastric cancer and a type of oesophageal cancer, known as gastro-oesophageal junction adenocarcinoma, include ramucirumab.

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