News in Gastric Cancer

News from around the world, curated by the Gastric Cancer Foundation.

Biomarker Testing Matters

In recent years, biomarker testing has become an increasingly valuable resource for people diagnosed with gastric cancer. It is a gateway to personalized treatments that can often improve patient outcomes.

Cancer cell biomarkers are genes, gene mutations or proteins that cause cancer to grow and spread to other locations. It is important to check for specific stomach cancer biomarkers because some new therapies can target them and potentially stop cancer growth.

“Most experts in the field of stomach cancer would recommend that every patient with stomach cancer have their tumor tested for what we would consider the most common and most relevant biomarkers right now,” says Dr. Jeremy Davis, a leading surgical oncologist who specializes in gastrointestinal cancers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“Biomarker testing is important because it provides you with more information, and that knowledge is power,” says Dr. Davis. “Even if initial biomarker test results do not immediately affect treatment or decision making, testing allows you to have all of the information that you could have,” he notes. Biomarkers can continue to provide a valuable roadmap if the cancer recurs or does not respond to the first line of treatment. It is worth noting that patients can be tested for biomarkers more than once, since research continues to discover new biomarkers and targeted treatments.

Despite its importance, biomarker testing in gastric cancer is not as widely practiced as in other cancers. “I think when biomarker testing is not done for stomach cancers, it’s probably just due to a lack of awareness,” Dr. Davis explains. Every patient should ask their doctor about biomarker testing and access this tool in their cancer journey.

“We know that patients can be their own best advocates,” Dr. Davis says. “It’s important that patients aren’t afraid or shy about asking their doctor, ‘Have you sent my tumor tissue for biomarker testing?’”

“You really don’t know unless you check,” he emphasizes. “There are many cases in which testing for biomarkers has made a difference.”

When patients are informed and proactive about their care, they help ensure that they receive the most comprehensive and effective treatment possible.

The Gastric Cancer Foundation is proud to be a Founding Supporter of the Test Your Biomarkers campaign – a national education and awareness initiative to inform people about the importance and availability of biomarker testing in the treatment of stomach cancer.