Early diagnosis key to cancer survival: experts

Asia Pacific Gastroesophageal Cancer Congress stresses on awareness

In Japan, in the 1960s, a mobile endoscopy unit would ring a bell to announce its arrival on the street and people would queue up to get tested.

Japan, which has one of the highest incidence of gastric cancer in the world, has aggressively used the endoscopy technique to diagnose cancers.

Though the incidence of gastric cancers continues to be high in that country, the five-year survival following diagnosis now is 70%. Korea, which currently tops the list of gastric cancers, has also improved its survival rate.

Gastroentrologists from these countries say that higher survival rates is due to better education and screening of the population.

At the ongoing eighth Asia Pacific Gastroesophageal Cancer Congress in the city, experts from Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and the U.K. had only one message for doctors — when a person complains of stomach ache and comes back with the symptoms repeatedly, refer him to a specialist.

High incidence

Countries such as China, Japan and Korea saw high incidence of gastric cancers due to the high presence of H. pylori bacteria and dietary habits, said experts.

“The older generation consumed fish preserved in salt. Korea still has the same problem,” said H.K. Yang, director of Gastric Cancer Centre, Seoul National University Hospital.

India can learn from these countries to educate the public and pursue early detection programmes of high-risk populations, the specialists said

Though the presence of H. pylori in these countries was eradicated due to better sanitation, experts were concerned about a sedentary lifestyle causing newer kinds of cancers — those at the junction between the stomach and the oesophagus, common in western countries.

To a question on immunotherapy as a treatment protocol, Takeshi Sano, secretary general of the International Gastric Cancer Association, said that it was still in the early stages, but hoped that within the next 20 years, it would become the primary mode of treatment, dispensing with the need for surgery.

S.M. Chandramohan, president of EsoIndia, which is jointly organising the conference along with the Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, said countries with high incidence of cancers had improved survival rates by raising awareness about the disease and educating people to seek treatment early. In Japan, the survival rate five years after the detection of cancer is 70%, whereas in India it is only 27%. This should change, since the incidence of the cancer in india is very low, he said.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 7:20:27 AM |

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