During November, Stomach Cancer Awareness Month is commemorated around the world. It is a proposal from the World Health Organization (WHO) to disseminate relevant information about the disease. The main objective is to reduce the cases that arise and achieve timely detections to increase the chances of success.

Increase incidence and mortality in the world

In this sense, during 2020 stomach cancer was the sixth most frequent type of tumor in the world. 1.09 million new cases were detected. In that same year, it also ranked fifth among the most frequent causes of death from neoplasia. While it usually occurs more frequently in certain areas such as South America and Asia.

Dr. Mohamad Sonbol, a clinical oncologist from Mayo Clinic, mentions four basic aspects about the diagnosis, detection and treatment of this disease. It is quite valuable information that all health professionals should know.

  • Endoscopy is often the first step in diagnosing stomach cancer because it allows doctors to diagnose, stage, and treat some tumors in the early stages. The endoscope allows doctors to enter and remove those abnormal growths that are superficial and localized. When this disease is detected, computed tomography and positron emission tomography can be used to better establish the stage.
  • Screening for this disease in the general population is not recommended, except in East Asia, where stomach cancer is more common. There are also screening protocols for people at high risk. Risk factors are, among others, the following: obesity, smoking, alcohol consumption and family history.
  • Surgery is an alternative for patients whose cancer has not yet spread and for those cases in which surgery can remove the tumor. It is also the only curative method for patients with localized and advanced stage disease. Other treatments, such as systemic therapy and radiation, offer the greatest chance of cure and reduce the risk of recurrence.
  • Some immunotherapies are standard patient care and others are under study. Chemotherapy kills cells throughout the body, while immunotherapy wakes up the immune system to fight cancer. Chemotherapy usually works for a while, but then it stops. In contrast, when immunotherapy works, it usually works longer. The regimen chosen depends on the target in cancer cells.
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