Austin Cancer Centers announced this week that it will be first cancer treatment center in the area to offer a new stomach cancer drug recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The drug, Cyramza (ramucirumab), has been shown to increase survivorship among patients with advanced stomach cancers.
Cyramza prolongs the life of patients whose stomach cancer has metastasized after treatment, or is unable to be removed surgically, by blocking the growth of a tumor’s blood vessels. In clinical studies, the drug increased median overall survival of patients, and participants experienced a delay in tumor growth.
Dr. Brian J. Shimkus is pioneering the treatment among Austin oncologists and said that he sees great potential in the drug’s ability to improve quality of life for his patients.
“I and my fellow doctors at Austin Cancer Centers are very pleased to be able to offer Cyramza to our patients,” Shimkus says. “Any means of prolonging life is a victory in the battle against cancer and this treatment will be of great benefit to patients suffering from stomach cancer and to their families.”
The drug was reviewed under the FDA’s priority program, which hastens the approval process for drugs singled out as having the potential to significantly improve effectiveness in the treatment of a serious condition.
While stomach cancer was once a major killer in the United States, the mortality rate of the disease has steadily declined since the 1930s. Stomach cancer primarily attacks older patients. According to the American Cancer Society, almost two thirds of stomach cancer patients are 65 or older. The average age of diagnosis is 70 and men are slightly more susceptible to the disease than women. Smoking increases the risk of stomach cancer.