Background: Palliative radiotherapy for gastric cancer bleeding has been reported to be a safe and effective treatment, but predictive factors for achievement of hemostasis and overall survival have not been established.
Methods: In this retrospective study, 120 courses of palliative radiotherapy for gastric cancer bleeding in 117 patients in 4 institutes in Japan were reviewed with approval of the ethical committee in each institute. The rate of achieving hemostasis was evaluated by 50% or more reduction of red blood cell transfusion before and after the start of radiotherapy, elevation of blood hemoglobin concentration in a period of 4 weeks from the start of radiotherapy or improvement of subjective or objective clinical symptoms in a period of 4 weeks from the start of radiotherapy. Predictive factors for overall survival and achieving hemostasis were investigated with the Cox hazards model.
Results: The median overall survival period was 3.7 months. Multivariate analysis showed that absence of metastatic disease, higher biological effective dose, higher serum albumin level, lower blood urea nitrogen level and lower neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (NLR) were associated with longer overall survival. Elevation of hemoglobin concentration in a period of 4 weeks from the start of radiotherapy (mean concentration: 8.2 g/dL vs. 8.9 g/dL, p=0.006) and decrease in the amount of red cell transfusion from a 4-week period before to a 4-week period after the start of radiotherapy (mean amount: 716 mL vs. 230 mL, p<0.0001) were observed. The overall rate of achievement of hemostasis was 59.6%. In multivariate analysis, higher biological effective dose was associated with achievement of hemostasis. Grade 2 or higher acute adverse effects related to radiotherapy were observed in 17.5% of cases in 120 treatment courses. Six cases (5.0%) had grade 3 or 4 adverse effects including gastric penetration in 1 patient and anorexia requiring total parental nutrition in 3 patients. No grade 5 adverse effects were observed.
Conclusions: Palliative radiotherapy for gastric cancer bleeding seems to be an effective and safe treatment strategy. Higher treatment dose was associated with longer overall survival and a hemostatic effect. Some hematological parameters may predict overall survival, and they would be helpful for deciding the treatment strategy.