Gastric cancer can only be detected early if patients take their symptoms seriously and consult a doctor, said H.K. Yang, a leading surgical gastroenterologist from South Korea.

Dr. Yang was interacting with school students at an awareness programme on gastric cancer held at Madras Medical College on Sunday.

Comparing the detection and diagnosis of the disease in India as against his country, Dr. Yang, who is a professor of chief division of gastrointestinal surgery at Seoul National University Hospital, said: “Seventy per cent of cases in South Korea were detected in the first stage whereas 90 per cent of the patients in India came in for treatment only in the advanced stage. When it is too late, you can’t do anything about it. When you notice warning signs, even indigestion, the best thing to do is consult a doctor and not ignore it.”

South Korea has the highest incidence of gastric cancer in the world and men are twice as vulnerable as women, he said.

When C. Nithya, a student of DAV school, Gopalapuram asked how gastric cancer was detected early in Korea, Dr. Yang said the Korean government supports screening of people for the disease. “Every two years after the age of 40, people regularly go to the hospital to get a gastroscopy done,” he said.

Emirose, who recently underwent a surgery for gastric cancer said that he has not had any problems lately and that he has returned to normalcy.

Students from schools across the city participated in the interaction and asked questions ranging from the symptoms associated with gastric cancer to its root causes to the different stages of the disease.

The prizes for an essay competition titled ‘Changing Lifestyle and Gastric Cancer’ conducted by MMC were given away by Dr. Yang.

Dr. V. Kanagasabai, dean of Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and S.M. Chandramohan, head of the hospital’s surgical gastroenterology department also participated.

On Friday, the first Indian international conference on gastric cancer was organised in which over 300 medical professionals participated.

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