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Volume 3, No 1 - Winter 2003

Volume 3, No 1 - Winter 2003

Table of Contents

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease and Helicobacter pylori Infection Treatment Update
The prevalence of Helicobacter pylori infection has been decreasing while the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease and esophageal adenocarcinoma has been increasing in developed countries since the 1930s. This has raised concerns that H. pylori infection may protect against esophageal disease and that the disappearance of H. pylori from the population might lead to a further increase in gastroesophageal reflux disease. Some studies have suggested that eradication of H. pylori in patients with duodenal ulcer disease results in an increase in the incidence of erosive esophagitis, whereas other studies have shown no such increase. Studies on gastric acid secretion have demonstrated that proton pump inhibitors are more effective in controlling gastric pH in individuals who are infected with H. pylori. Studies on the impact of therapy in patients with erosive esophagitis have been conflicting. This article reviews each of the issues in the debate separately and concludes that there is little evidence to suggest a major effect of H. pylori eradication on the outcome of gastroesophageal reflux disease. [Rev Gastroenterol Disord. 2003;3(1):1–7]
Management of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Technique Update
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) ranks fifth in frequency worldwide among all malignancies and causes 1 million deaths annually. The management of HCC begins with diagnostic confirmation by radiologic imaging or histology. Staging is essential, as the choice of therapy depends on the functional state of the liver and the extent of tumor growth. Surgery, in the form of either hepatic resection or orthotopic liver transplantation, is the only potentially curative treatment. Transarterial chemoembolization is commonly used as either palliative treatment or adjunctive therapy to surgery, and a survival benefit with this therapy has just recently been demonstrated in a randomized, controlled trial. Patients with inoperable HCC may benefit from local ablative therapy that may still have curative potential in those with sufficiently small lesions and adequate liver function. For patients with advanced HCC, systemic chemotherapy has been widely employed, despite low efficacy and significant complication rate. Tamoxifen did not improve survival in large clinical trials. Gene therapy is an exciting approach to treating HCC but is still largely confined to preclinical and experimental settings. [Rev Gastroenterol Disord. 2003;3(1):8–24]
Update on the Role of Drug Therapy in Non-Ulcer Dyspepsia Treatment Update
Non-ulcer dyspepsia is common and is often confused with other diagnoses. It remains a condition identified by exclusion, and continues to be a challenge to manage. Currently, only a limited number of pharmacological options are available. Antacids are no more effective than placebo in treating nonulcer dyspepsia. H2-receptor antagonists appear to be superior to placebo in efficacy, but many of the studies suggesting this finding have had a suboptimal study design. Proton pump inhibitors have been shown to be superior to placebo, although questions remain as to whether the only subgroup that responds is comprised of patients with unrecognized gastroesophageal reflux disease. Studies have found that prokinetic agents are superior to placebo, but currently only a very limited number of agents within this class can be prescribed in the United States. Sparse data support the role of metoclopramide and its side effects limit its use even further. The eradication of Helicobacter pylori has a small but positive therapeutic benefit in non-ulcer dyspepsia, and can be considered in those confirmed to be infected. Sucralfate is unlikely to be effective, and misoprostol is ineffective. Bismuth alone is probably not efficacious. Tricyclic antidepressants may have a therapeutic role, but this is not firmly established and this class of medication should be reserved for resistant cases. Emerging therapies include drugs that relax the gastric fundus, such as buspirone or sumatriptan, and the new prokinetic tegaserod. Psychological therapies may play a role but studies of these therapies are limited. Therapy for non-ulcer dyspepsia remains challenging and is usually empiric; it will remain so until the mechanisms that induce symptoms of dyspepsia are better understood. [Rev Gastroenterol Disord. 2003;3(1):25–30]
Oxaliplatin: A New Drug for the Treatment of Metastatic Carcinoma of the Colon or Rectum New Drug Review
Oxaliplatin is a useful agent in combination with 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin for the treatment of patients with metastatic carcinoma of the colon or rectum whose disease has recurred or progressed during or within 6 months of completion of first-line therapy (a combination of bolus 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin and irinotecan). Oxaliplatin works by disrupting DNA replication and transcription and is cell-cycle nonspecific. In vitro, oxaliplatin has shown activity against numerous tumor lines, but it has only been approved for the treatment of metastatic carcinoma of the colon or rectum. [Rev Gastroenterol Disord. 2003;3(1):31–38]