Time for change - caring for the stomach cancer community
November is Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness and advocating for change for all those living with stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer. This month, we are also taking time to appreciate and recognise the significant role caregivers play in a patient’s stomach cancer journey.
Stomach cancer can be challenging to diagnose since symptoms in the earlier stages may be masked as other common gastrointestinal ailments. For this reason, stomach cancer is the 5th most common cancer worldwide, with more than 1 million new cases of stomach cancer in 2020.1 By 2040, 1.8 million new cases of stomach cancer are expected worldwide.2
However, by detecting cancer at earlier stages, it is possible to reduce the morbidity and mortality of stomach cancer and improve quality of life for patients, care partners and families.
It is estimated 35%-40% of gastric cancer deaths could be averted by the early identification and treatment of Helicobacter pylori infection.3 In addition, wider research focused on identifying biological markers of the disease may pave the way for advances in the screening and diagnosis of both gastric and gastro-oesophageal cancers. It’s clear we need to push the boundaries of our scientific knowledge to develop targeted diagnostics and treatments that could improve survival and quality of life for all those living with stomach cancer.
The publication of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan and of the updated Council Recommendation on cancer screening, along with the renewed focus on EU health policy, all mark important steps towards the eradication of inequalities in cancer diagnosis and treatment. The new recommendation also expands population-based organised cancer screening to include lung, prostate and, under certain circumstances, gastric cancers plus an ‘identify and treat’ strategy for Helicobacter pylori infections in high incidence countries. This is vital step forward in tackling the rising prevalence of many cancers across Europe. Continuous advocacy is required at EU and national level to ensure full adoption of the recommendation, its implementation across all EU Member States and further EU research commitment to the early detection and diagnosis of gastric cancer.
As we reflect, November is a special moment for us to collectively commemorate the patients and their families who are living with the everyday challenges of a stomach cancer diagnosis. We recognise the importance of better understanding stomach cancer so that patients, no matter where they live, have an option for innovative treatments. We remain committed to this community and hope you join us this month in raising awareness for stomach cancer.
- World Cancer Research Fund. Stomach Cancer statistics. Available at: https://www.wcrf.org/cancer-trends/stomach-cancer-statistics/. Last accessed November 2022.
- Morgan E, Arnold M, Camargo MC, et al. The current and future incidence and mortality of gastric cancer in 185 countries, 2020-40: A population-based modelling study. EClinicalMedicine. 2022;47:101404. Published 2022 Apr 21. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35497064/. Last accessed November 2022.
- Science Advice for Policy by European Academies (SAPEA). Improving cancer screening in the European Union. 2022. Available at: https://sapea.info/wp-content/uploads/cancer-screening-report.pdf. Last accessed November 2022.
- European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). A European Union that leads on cancer screening: the implications of new Council recommendation. Available at: https://www.efpia.eu/news-events/the-efpia-view/blog-articles/a-european-union-that-leads-on-cancer-screening-the-implications-of-new-council-recommendation/. Last accessed November 2022.