To systematically evaluate the efficacy and safety of the combination of apatinib targeted therapy and chemotherapy (CT) in the treatment of patients with advanced gastric cancer (GC).
Clinical trials were extracted from PubMed, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, EMBASE, CNKI, and the Wanfang database. Outcome measures, including therapeutic efficacy, quality of life (QOL), and adverse events, were extracted and evaluated.
Nineteen trials, including 1,256 advanced GC patients, were included. The results indicated that, compared with CT alone, the combination of apatinib targeted therapy with CT significantly improved the patients’ complete response rate (OR=1.85, 95% CI=1.04–3.28, P=0.04), partial response rate (OR=2.19, 95% CI=1.71–2.80, P<0.00001), overall response (OR=2.57, 95% CI=1.99–3.32, P<0.00001), and disease control rate (OR=3.46, 95% CI=2.57–4.66, P<0.00001). Moreover, the combined therapy exhibited advantages over CT alone in the patients’ QOL including the QOL improved rate (OR=1.77, 95% CI=0.94–3.33, P=0.08) and the Karnofsky performance score (OR=1.77, 95% CI=0.94–3.33, P=0.08). The group that received the combined therapy had higher rates of hypertension (OR=5.75, 95% CI=2.22–14.92, P=0.0003), albuminuria (OR=15.42, 95% CI=5.39–44.10, P<0.00001), and hand–foot syndrome (OR=2.09, 95% CI=1.26–3.48, P=0.004), whereas analyses of other adverse events, such as leucopenia, thrombocytopenia, and neutropenia, did not reveal significant differences ( P>0.05).
The combination of apatinib targeted therapy and CT is more effective for GC treatment than CT alone. However, this combined treatment could lead to greater rates of hypertension, albuminuria, and hand–foot syndrome. Therefore, the benefits and risks should be considered before treatment.