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How stomach cancer has become especially dangerous for young people

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Stomach cancer is affecting more and more women under the age of 40 in Latin America, according to a study by the National Cancer Institute (INC) in Tlalpan, Mexico.

At our center, we have seen a 120% increase in gastric cancer in young patients over the past 12 years and it has been mainly in female patients, said the author of the Research, INC oncologist German Calderillo-Ruiz, in a statement from the European Society for Medical Oncology.

Calderillo-Ruiz explained that these patients ” usually present themselves with the most advanced disease and worse prognostic indicators than men, with an adverse impact on survival.”

The study will be presented this Thursday by Calderillo-Ruiz at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer, which will be held from tomorrow until Saturday in Barcelona.

The study published by the journal Annals of Oncology is the follow-up to another observational retrospective conducted in Mexico, which claimed that one in seven of the 2,000 patients diagnosed with gastric cancer were under forty years of age.

The work analysed data from 2,022 patients diagnosed with gastric adenocarcinoma between 2004 and 2016, of whom 290 were younger than 40 years of age. Of these, 54 per cent were women and 46 per cent were men.

The study concluded that women had higher levels of factors that indicate bad forecasts: tumors of diffuse type (68 % against 32 % in men), signet-ring cells (76 % vs. 69 %), poorly differentiated (89 % vs 84 %), and greater prevalence of disease, stage IV (59 % vs. 41 %).

Given these results, Dr. Calderillo-Ruiz explained that” the lack of economic resources can affect the behavior of women, delaying the search for medical attention when gastric symptoms appear”, since this cancer, according to previous studies, is usually a more common disease in men.

The findings support data from the US National Cancer Institute, whose figures indicate that gastrointestinal cancer is affecting more young Hispanic people, with worse results than in older patients.

The doctor hopes that “this research will encourage clinicians and patients to be aware of the risk of gastric cancer in young people and, in particular, to encourage women with intestinal symptoms to seek help from specialists before”.

Commenting on the implications of the research, Dr. Rodrigo Dienstmann, of the Vall d’hebron Cancer Research Institute (VHIO) in Barcelona, highlighted the combination of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to gastric cancer and the fact that young people have a more aggressive disease with less response to treatment.

“We can’t change genetic factors, but we can act on unhealthy diet, obesity, and Helicobacter pylori infection, which increases the risk of gastric cancer,” Dienstmann said.

He also stressed that” young people who suffer from regular indigestion, heartburn, or other gastric symptoms should not ignore them and go to the doctor, as they surely need diagnostic tests, “and encouraged them not to”ignore the possibility of gastric cancer in young people, particularly in Latin America.”

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