Fast food, Stress, Unhealthy lifestyle & Genes linked to increased risk of stomach cancer: Experts

Stomach cancer prognosis varies widely depending on the stage at diagnosis

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Faridabad: Over the past decade, the incidence of stomach cancer in India has exhibited a gradual increase. Compared to many Western countries, stomach cancer rates in India are relatively high. This upward trend is, in part, attributed to improved diagnostic capabilities leading to more accurate reporting. However, unique dietary practices, notably a preference for spicy and preserved foods, contribute to this elevated incidence, said doctors at Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
Stomach cancer prognosis varies widely depending on the stage at diagnosis. Types of stomach cancer include adenocarcinoma, lymphoma, and gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs). Unfortunately, stomach cancer is often diagnosed in later stages, contributing to higher mortality rates.
Dr. Puneet Dhar, HoD, Gastrointestinal Surgery, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, said, “Several risk factors contribute to stomach cancer in India. These include a diet high in salty or pickled foods, smoked foods, low intake of fruits and vegetables, Helicobacter pylori infection, smoking, obesity, and certain occupational exposures. Improved sanitation and decreasing rates of H. pylori infection have contributed to declining rates in some areas. Dietary patterns, significantly associated with stomach cancer in India, include the consumption of heavily spiced foods. Lifestyle factors like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption also contribute to the risk.”
Stomach cancer predominantly affects individuals after the age of 50 years, with the average age at diagnosis being around 60. There’s a slightly higher prevalence among men compared to women, with men exhibiting a higher risk due to lifestyle factors like higher rates of smoking and alcohol consumption. Geographically, higher incidence rates are noted in regions where dietary patterns include more spicy, salty, or preserved foods. Hormonal differences and genetic factors might also play a role, although further research is needed for conclusive evidence.
Dr. Saleem Naik, Senior Consultant, Gastrointestinal Surgery, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad, said, “Symptoms of stomach cancer include persistent abdominal pain or discomfort, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, and blood in the stool. However, early-stage stomach cancer might not exhibit noticeable symptoms, emphasizing the importance of regular screenings for high-risk individuals.”
“Prioritizing a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, minimizing processed and preserved foods, quitting smoking, moderating alcohol intake, and scheduling regular medical check-ups, particularly for those with a family history or concerning symptoms, are pivotal preventive measures. Embracing routine screenings for high-risk individuals aids in early issue detection, enhancing overall health and well-being. Proactive lifestyle choices empower individuals to take charge of their health, fostering a foundation for a healthier future,” added Dr. Abhishek Agrawal, Consultant, Gastrointestinal Surgery, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
Healthcare disparities and limited access to screening further impact the prevalence of stomach cancer in India. Accessibility to medical advancements often remains a challenge in many parts of India due to resource limitations and healthcare infrastructure disparities. Although, it is noteworthy that medical research has led to advancements in early detection methods for stomach cancer, including improved endoscopic techniques and imaging technologies.