According to a story from asianscientist.com, a group of researchers out of Singapore used genomic analysis with around 3,000 patients with stomach cancer to determine characteristics that were associate with the development of the disease. The study specifically looked at the development of intestinal metaplasia, which is a significant risk factor for the development of stomach cancer.
Stomach cancer develops from the lining of the stomach and in many cases is caused by an infection from Helicobacter pylori. This infection is responsible for about sixty percent of cases. Different dietary choices can increase or reduce the risk of developing the cancer, and smoking can increase the risk. The cancer is often not detected until it has spread to other areas and reached an advanced stage, meaning the five year survival rate is quite low. Some symptoms of the cancer include weight loss, jaundice, vomiting, trouble swallowing, and bloody stool. In countries where the cancer is more common, such as in Japan and South Korea, people are regularly screened for it. As it can often be detected earlier in a screening, survival rates are substantially better in those countries. To learn more about stomach cancer, click here.
The study found that measuring a person’s likelihood of having intestinal metaplasia (IM) can be a major predictor of their potential to develop stomach cancer. People with IM are six times more likely to develop cancer. The study assessed the genetic changes that are associated with IM and used that data to predict potential cancer risk. Most previous studies that measured the genomic characteristics of IM used patients that had already developed cancer. Although the risk is greatly increased, everyone that has IM does not automatically develop cancer.
Nearly three hundred people from Singapore die from stomach cancer every year. The Singapore Gastric Cancer Consortium (SGCC) helped back the research and is constantly on the search for new treatments for stomach cancer and advocates for the need of targeted screening for the disease. If detected and treated at an early stage, many cases of stomach cancer can be cured. The findings of the study were originally published in Cancer Cell, a scientific journal.