Late consultation the main cause of high mortality from stomach cancer in Chile

Stomach cancer (SC) is the main cancer killer among men in many countries, both developing (such as Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica) and developed (such as Japan).

This is the first report of the 5-year survival after diagnosis of SC in Chile. Researchers from the Health Service of Valdivia and from Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile have found that only 10% of cases survived 5 years, with late consultation being the main cause of this high mortality. This research shows that currently the only strategy to diminish stomach cancer mortality is early detection. It is imperative that cost-effective mass early detection programs be implemented in high risk areas.

SC has been the main cancer killer in the Chilean population since the 1950s. Despite important socioeconomic development of the country and improvements in health indicators, SC mortality has not decreased. To date, there are no population-based studies of SC incidence and survival in Chile that would illuminate the causes behind the high mortality, particularly among men. This research, lead by Drs. Katy Heise, Catterina Ferreccio and theirs colleagues in the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, has recently been published on April 21, 2009 in World J Gastroenterol.

There have been few studies of the real magnitude of the SC problem and the characteristics of the patients that survive or die from this cancer. This is the first report of SC survival in the Chilean population and the second one in Latin America.

Dr. Katy Heise is the leader of the Cancer Registry of Valdivia, the most important source of information on cancer incidence and survival in the country. Dr. Catterina Ferreccio is leading population-based research on cancer in Chile, conducted in collaboration with the public health system and with international institutions like NCI-USA, the University of California at Berkeley IARC-France.

This report presents invaluable data on SC incidence and SC survival in a high risk area for SC in a middle developing country of Latin America. It provides information about the clinical presentation of SC cases, their socio-demographic characteristics and risk factors and the prognostic factors of survival. The results indicate that late stage at diagnoses is by far the principal explanatory factor of poor survival.


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