BACKGROUND: Although second-line therapy is often considered for advanced gastric cancer patients, the optimal candidates are not well defined. METHODS: We retrospectively collected baseline parameters, tumour features, and treatment data for 868 advanced gastric cancer patients exposed to multiple treatment lines at 19 Italian centres. Cross-tables and chi-square tests were used to describe categorical features. To predict the impact of clinical variables on progression-free survival and overall survival, Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses were performed. RESULTS: At the start of second-line therapy, median age was 64.8 years (25th-75th percentiles: 55.2-71.9 years). Overall, 43% of patients received single-agent chemotherapy, 47.4% a doublet, and 7.3% a triplet. Median second-line progression-free survival was 2.8 months (25th-75th percentiles: 1.8-5.2 months) and median second-line overall survival was 5.6 months (25th-75th percentiles: 2.9-10.0 months). Multivariate analysis showed that performance status, LDH level, neutrophils/lymphocytes ratio, and progression-free survival in the first-line therapy all impacted on prognosis. Based on these four prognostic factors, a prognostic index was constructed that divided patients into good, intermediate, and poor risk groups; median second-line overall survival for each group was 7.7, 4.5, and 2.0 months, respectively (log-rank p textless 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Advanced gastric cancer patients with a favourable ECOG performance status, lower LDH levels, and a lower neutrophils/lymphocytes ratio at the start of second-line therapy seem to have better outcomes, regardless of age and intensity of treatment. A longer progression-free survival in the first-line therapy also had positive prognostic value. Our real-life study might help clinicians to identify the patients who may benefit most from a second-line therapy.
- Advanced gastric cancer, Overall survival, Prognostic factors, progression-free survival, Second-line chemotherapy