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Unhealthy lifestyle, stress and more: Why stomach cancer cases are rising in India?

Stomach Cancer: If left untreated, there is the potential for metastasis, where cancer cells spread to distant organs. Lets understand the factors contributing to the rising cases of stomach cancer in the Indian context.

Written By : India TV Health Desk Edited By : Surabhi Shaurya
New Delhi
Updated on: November 29, 2023 18:17 IST
Stomach Cancer
Image Source : FREEPIK Why stomach cancer cases are rising in India?

Stomach Cancer:  Stomach cancer or gastric cancer, is a type of cancer that begins in the cells lining the stomach. It often develops slowly over many years, and its early symptoms may be vague or not easily noticeable. As the cancer advances, it can spread to other parts of the stomach and nearby organs. If left untreated, it can also metastasize to distant organs. In this article, lets understand why stomach cancer cases are rising in India. 

Why Stomach Cancer cases are rising? 

Experts have stressed that the increase in stomach cancer cases in India is the result of a combination of factors, including unhealthy lifestyle choices, elevated stress levels, genetic predisposition, and the consumption of junk food. Besides, distinct dietary practices, notably a preference for spicy and preserved foods, coupled with alcohol intake, significantly contribute to the relatively elevated rates of stomach cancer in the country, as underscored by healthcare professionals. 

“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,” said Dr Puneet Dhar, HoD, Gastrointestinal Surgery, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.

“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,” he added.

Symptoms of stomach cancer 

Symptoms of stomach cancer include:

  • Persistent abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blood in the stool

While early-stage stomach cancer may not exhibit noticeable symptoms, the doctors emphasised the importance of regular screenings for high-risk individuals.

Types of stomach cancer 

Stomach cancer prognosis varies widely depending on the stage at diagnosis. Types of stomach cancer include

  • Adenocarcinoma 
  • Lymphoma
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs)

Unfortunately, stomach cancer is often diagnosed in later stages, contributing to higher mortality rates.

“The epidemiology of gastric cancer suggests that it is not a single disease or caused by a single factor, but a combination of genetic, socio-cultural, and environmental factors in a given region dictates its presentation. Various etiological factors including smoking, alcohol, nitrates, and Helicobacter pylori infection have been proposed as causative factors for gastric cancer,” Dr Harish Verma, Senior Consultant - Surgical Oncology, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Gurugram, told IANS.

The high incidence of local and distant recurrence even in patients with completely resectable gastric cancer indicates the systemic spread of cancer very early in the disease, thus emphasising the need for multimodality treatment including surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy for treating the disease.

“Worldwide and more so in the developed world, there has been a decline in the incidence of gastric cancer and this has been attributed to improved food hygiene, sanitation, and food preservation techniques. However, this declining trend has not been seen in certain parts of India. Differences in some dietary patterns and use of tobacco and alcohol have been considered as potential risk factors,” Verma said.

Stomach Cancer: Cure 

The health experts called for improving dietary habits along with avoidance of preserved food and healthy lifestyle changes to curb the incidence of stomach cancer.

They also stressed the need for eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, minimising 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.

(With IANS Inputs) 

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