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In this article, we’ll be looking at stomach cancer in Japan as it is one of the most common types of cancer found among the Japanese. Cancer Institute Hospital of JFCR located right next to Ariake Station in Tokyo, is widely recognized for its large number of quality surgeries. The number of Gastroenterological surgeries is notable, reaching over 2,000 a year. We thank them for this important article contribution.
Stomach cancer forms in the mucosa (innermost layer) of the stomach. Our stomachs experience irritation on a regular basis, caused by a number of different sources—such as carcinogens in some of the food we eat and even the gastric acid inside our stomachs, which aids in food digestion. This irritation can cause ulcers and cancers to develop inside the stomach.
As is the case with colon and esophageal cancer, stomach cancer forms in the mucosa, which means it can be detected early by examining the interior of the stomach. Stomach cancer often appears in the form of protrusions or depressions, making it easy to detect by searching for bumps, recesses, or discoloration in the surface of the mucosa with barium X-rays or endoscopy.
Stomach cancer is a common cancer among East Asian people, and Japan is no exception. In Japan, people are encouraged to receive screenings for stomach cancer every year once they reach the age of 40. Many cases occur due to chronic atrophic gastritis caused by a H. pylori infection (more on this later), but some cancers are hereditary. For example, there is a known correlation between a mutation in the CDH1 gene and hereditary diffuse stomach cancer.
Although there are many people in Japan who suffer from stomach cancer, it is considered one of the easiest cancers to cure, along with colon cancer. X-ray and endoscopy screenings have greatly improved in accuracy over the years and, today, it is easier than ever to detect stomach cancers early. Operating on stomach cancer is now safer than ever, while the quality of chemotherapy has greatly improved, making it an effective option for treating recurrences or treating cancers for which surgery is not an option. If detected early, the cancer can be surgically removed through a procedure that causes much less discomfort or pain for the patient than at later stages.
Once treated for stomach cancer, most patients can return to their normal lives without a problem. If you have stomach cancer, it is important to learn about the disease and to talk with your doctor about the treatment plan that will work best for you.
There is no one symptom associated with stomach cancer. However, if you experience discomfort in your upper abdomen, abdominal pain before or after a meal, or a feeling of excessive fullness, you should have your stomach examined by a doctor. Also, stomach cancer can sometimes be discovered during a thorough checkup conducted following a diagnosis of anemia.
The causes of stomach cancer, and how to avoid them
The two main factors that are considered to cause stomach cancer are H. pylori infections and bad diet. When allowed to linger, the H. pylori bacteria causes the stomach lining to grow thin—a condition known as chronic atrophic gastritis—and become more susceptible to cancer. If an H. pylori infection is detected, the patient is given antibiotics to prevent the development of stomach cancer.
Some foods contain small amounts of carcinogens that could cause stomach cancer. Avoiding excessive or regular consumption of foods that contain relatively large amounts of carcinogens can help prevent stomach cancer. These foods include salt-cured fish and meat, as well as pickled vegetables that are high in salt. Also, charred fish and meat contain a carcinogen called nitrosamine. Cigarettes can also increase the likelihood of cancer. By limiting the consumption of these foods and not smoking, you can considerably reduce your chances of getting stomach cancer.
However, since there is no way to entirely prevent stomach cancer, no matter how healthy your diet, it is a good idea to start getting screened for stomach cancer once you reach the age of 40. Stomach cancer can be detected early and be treated with minimal discomfort and pain if diagnosed at an early stage.
Next time, we will take a look at the occurrence, progression, and screening of stomach cancer in Japan. The Cancer Institute Hospital of JFCR is part of the HealthyTokyo Network and offers treatment in Japan as well as cancer screening packages for HealthyTokyo Premium Members.
Founded in 1934 and has the longest history of any hospital in Japan specializing in cancer diagnosis and treatment.