Stomach cancer: Help fund life-saving research to fight this disease

Last updated: 30/10/2012

Why this research is needed

 Doctor talking to a nurseAround 7,500 people are diagnosed with stomach cancer every year in the UK.

The best treatment option is surgery to remove the tumour and sometimes part or all of the stomach. Some patients also receive chemotherapy and radiotherapy to help improve their chances of survival.

Despite these treatment efforts, less than one in five people survive their disease beyond five years.

The impact of our research

Our scientists were among the first to show that a major cause of stomach cancer is an infection with bacteria called H. pylori. This has lead to stomach cancer death rates falling by around 75% over the last 40 years.

Today our researchers are looking for even more effective ways to prevent and treat the disease so that more people survive.

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Kicking cancer in the guts: How we're improving the lives of people with stomach cancer

Finding new standards of care

Chemotherapy with surgery for stomach cancer can lower the risk of the cancer coming back. Scientists have found that giving patients a combination of chemotherapy drugs called ECF before, during and after surgery improved survival.

Professor David Cunningham of the Royal Marsden Hospital is working to improve this treatment even further. He is adding a new ingredient to the chemotherapy cocktail, Bevacizumab, a drug that affects the ability of the tumour to create new blood vessels.

Professor Cunningham is comparing chemotherapy alone against chemotherapy using bevacizumab, both before and after surgery. This trial could find out if this new treatment can save more lives and prevent cancer from returning.

Getting to the root of the problem

Around a third of stomach cancer cases have been attributed to the bacteria H. pylori. This bacteria lives in many of our stomachs where it's generally harmless, but studies have suggested that in some people it can increase the risk of stomach cancer by around six times.

Dr Nick Wald at Queen Mary University of London is finding out if eliminating H. pylori from the stomach of infected people can reduce their risks of developing stomach cancer in the future.

If the trial shows a reduced risk of cancer, this could mean that many cases of stomach cancer in the world could be prevented by screening for the bacteria and getting rid of it when found.

Do all bacteria cause stomach cancer?

Although many cases are related to H.pylori infections, this bacteria comes in several forms. Thanks to Dr John Atherton of Nottingham University we know that only those that have a specific gene can cause stomach cancer.

Dr Atherton is now digging deeper to out what exactly is different about this type of H.pylori and, more importantly, how it can cause changes in the stomach that lead to stomach cancer.

Knowing which types of H.pylori can lead to cancer and how they do so could help researchers to design new tests and ways of preventing it to reduce the risks and cases of stomach cancer worldwide.

The difference you can make

Thanks to the help and support of people like you, we're able to support clinical trials and essential research like the examples above. Some of this research could soon benefit the lives of people with the disease.

Please help us raise £50,000 which is around the cost of supporting a scientific officer, vital to research such as in the projects above.