Doctors say around 20 patients visit GRH every month

Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) here has recorded a surge in the number of cases relating to stomach cancer, which is attributed to unhealthy dietary habits among people.

According to the doctors, around 20 patients with stomach cancer visit the hospital every month. Earlier, the disease used to affect people above 60 years of age, but in the last 10 years it has begun to affect even those around 40 years of age.

Last year, around 110 such patients came to the GRH.

It could be attributed to the increase in consumption of non-vegetarian and fatty food, and reduction in the intake of fruits and vegetables, the doctors said.

Dr. Maruthupandian, Professor, Surgery, Madurai Medical College, said, “Consumption of smoked and oily food which contain carcinogens and alcohol, and smoking contribute significantly to stomach cancer.”

He said the early symptoms of stomach cancer were early satiety, a condition in which a person felt full before completing a normal meal as the elasticity of the stomach was reduced.

The other symptoms included weight loss and difficulty in swallowing food. Later, the person would develop anaemia. Discharge of black stools and vomiting blood happened in the advanced stage, he added.

Persons who had early symptoms of stomach cancer must immediately go for a medical examination, he stressed.

A majority of the patients went to doctors only during the advanced stage when the survival period was less than five years. The survival rate could be 70 per cent, if the disease was diagnosed early, a senior medical oncologist at the GRH said.

Though awareness among the public of this type of cancer had increased over the last decade, it was less when compared to diseases such as cervical cancer and breast cancer, doctors said.

Doctors at primary health centres must be trained to deal with stomach cancer patients since they were the ones who received the cases first, they added.

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