• advanced gastric cancer;
  • irinotecan;
  • first line;
  • meta-analysis


The standard treatment for patients with advanced gastric cancer (AGC) is still debated, and the available data on the benefit of irinotecan-containing regimen as first-line treatment for those patients are controversial. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to determine the survival benefits of irinotecan-containing regimens in this setting. A total of 1,837 patients from ten trials were included in the analysis. Our results showed that irinotecan-containing regimens significantly improved overall survival [OS: hazard ratio (HR) 0.86, 95% CI = 0.78–0.94, p = 0.002] and progression-free survival [HR = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.69–0.97, p = 0.026); however, the improvement of time to failure (HR = 0.90; 95% CI = 0.77–1.04, p = 0.15), 1-year survival rate [1-year SR: relative risk (RR) 1.10, 95% CI = 0.97–1.24, p = 0.13] and overall response rate (RR = 1.16, 95% CI = 0.91–1.49, p = 0.24] were nonsignificant. Equivalent frequencies of toxicities were found between the two groups excluding more Grade 3 or 4 fatigue (p = 0.001) in irinotecan-containing regimens. This updated meta-analysis provided strong evidence for a survival benefit of irinotecan-containing regimen as first-line treatment for AGC. A clear advantage of irinotecan-containing over nonirinotecan-containing regimen had not been established. These results should help to inform decisions about patient management and design of future trials.