Stomach cancer or gastric cancer is the second most common cancer in the world and the most common cancer in Korea. The cancer was considered a death sentence because it was a disease that could not be eradicated even 30 years ago. With the rapid development of treatment technologies, however, the death rate for stomach cancer has significantly declined.
The cancer usually occurs between the ages of 40 to 60 and women are twice as likely to contract the cancer than men are. The cancer is divided into four stages based on its stage of development. Detection of stomach cancer in the early stage is vital because a 5 year survival rate is at 95% when it is found at this stage.
The best way to treat the cancer is gastric resection. Recently, in consideration of the patient’s quality of life after surgery, gastric resections are performed on a minimal part of the organ; while maximizing the function of the remaining sections of the stomach. In the early stage, cancer cells can be removed with an endoscope which results in less bleeding and a faster recovery.
Globally speaking, stomach cancer is the most common in Korea. However, Korea also has the most effective treatment for the cancer. Today, Korea is in the world’s limelight because of its excellent stomach cancer treatment. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) data published by the Korean government, which is based on publications from other countries, the survival rate for stomach cancer in Korea is at 64.2%, higher than Japan (56.6%) and the U.S. (52.1%). The April 2010 issue of the 『Annals of Surgery』, a world-renowned medical journal, said that the Catholic University of Korea, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital showed a 30% higher survival rate for stomach cancer than the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) in the U.S. The results are from an international joint study on stomach cancer treatments from the two hospitals above. The study also compared a 5 year survival rate of 711 patients treated at MSKCC and 1,646 patients from the Korea Seoul St. Mary's Hospital which showed an 81% survival rate, higher than the 58% found in the U.S.
It is not just statistical data that proves Korea has excellent stomach cancer treatments. Other countries are learning about Korea’s treatment technology. Korea has a high-level of stomach cancer treatment technologies thanks to the continuous competition and research that exist among medical institutions in Korea. Moreover, doctors from other countries visit Korea to learn about its treatment technologies as case after case have proved Korea’s excellent surgical results.
The anti-cancer treatment that is performed by Korean doctors was registered as a global guideline this June. A joint research team comprised of doctors from the Seoul National University Hospital and the Severance Hospital conducted a 3 year clinical test on an anti-cancer drug (developed by Sanofi-Aventis) that is used after stomach cancer surgery. Patients who were treated with the drug showed a 14% higher survival rate than those who didn’t take the drug and the results were registered as a guideline by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). The NCCN guideline is the most authoritative reference for countries when they prepare guidelines for diagnosing and treating cancer.
Dmitri Lipin (male, aged 38) who works as a seaman for 15 years in Vladivostok, Russia had to stay overseas for a long period of time due to work. He, therefore, had irregular eating patterns which resulted in bloating and stomachaches from time to time. He did not think much about this problem as it was not unusual; and he did not visit a doctor because he wanted to spend time with his family when he got home.
However, he lost a lot of weight in a few months, broke out in a cold sweat at night and had severe stomachaches. So, he paid a visit to the doctor’s with his wife. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer which he did not expect. He looked into hospitals in Thailand, Israel and Moscow. Finally, he was introduced to Inha University Hospital in Korea by an acquaintance who received treatment there.
Before he came to Korea, Dmitri made a reservation for an examination and treatment, and when he arrived he received a gastroscopy, PET-CT and bone scan. After a thorough examination, he was told that the cancer had not spread to other parts of his body and that he needed surgery. He received a gastric resection followed by 6 rounds of anti-cancer treatments, after which his white blood cell and platelet levels returned to normal. The PET-CT showed that he was cured without metastasis.
Currently, Dmitri is working as a seaman again. He said, “After I came back to Russia, I could still check on my condition with my doctor at Inha University Hospital through the phone and email, which made me so relieved. I have fully recovered from the cancer and can work as a seaman again thanks to the hospital’s staff members.”
Inha University Hospital is specialized in cancer treatments. Recently, the hospital was ranked first in stomach cancer, colorectal cancer and liver cancer surgeries as evaluated according to death rates from cancer surgeries by the Korean government evaluation institution. The hospital also recorded the lowest rate of complications. Inha University Hospital is conveniently located for international patients as it is in Incheon where the international airport is located. The hospital runs a medical center that is 560㎡ in size and is within the airport terminal.
Tel : +82-32-890-2090http://inha.com/eng/mainpage/main.php
Esa Mohammad Ali (male, aged 70) from Dubai received endoscopic therapy at the ASAN Medical Center to treat his benign gastro esophageal tumor. He took a biopsy after the endoscopic therapy and found that the cancer had spread to his stomach. He was told that he should get his stomach and lymph node removed. However, it was difficult for him to decide whether or not to get the surgery since he was old and was suffering from Evans syndrome (a rare autoimmune disease), diabetes, a chronic liver disorder and high blood pressure.
He first returned to Dubai to find a world-class hospital that should deliver the best results. He consulted with his doctor at Rashid Hospital, the best hospital in Dubai, which is part of the Dubai Government Dubai Health Authority. But in the end Mr. Ali chose ASAN Medical Center.
Evans syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which an individual's antibodies attack their own red and white blood cells and platelets. A surgery on a patient with this syndrome can cause excessive bleeding or an infection, so laparoscopic surgery with minimal bleeding and pain is better than a laparotomy. ASAN Medical Center has performed the highest number of laparoscopic surgery for stomach cancers in the world. This is why in the end Ali chose ASAN hospital, for the hospital’s rich experience in performing advanced techniques and for offering excellent care to its patients. The surgery went well and, fortunately, the cancer did not spread to other organs. He is now recovering quickly.
Mr. Ali said that “it was not difficult for me to choose the hospital because I had experienced the systematic treatment when I had came to the hospital initial to treat my tumor. It was amazing that the surgery left little scarring and the pain was not severe.”
ASAN Medical Center offers excellent cancer surgeries and organ transplants. The hospital has performed the highest number of surgeries for the most common cancers in Korea and treats around 10% of the cancer patients in the nation. More than 300 doctors visit the hospital from abroad to learn about its surgical techniques. ASAN Medical Center runs an integrated treatment system through which internal and surgical specialists treat cancer patients together in a partnership.
Tel : +82-2-3010-5001~3http://eng.amc.seoul.kr
The known methods for preventing stomach cancer can be summarized as follows.
First, you need to avoid carcinogens such as salty or burnt foods. It is good to have your food as bland as possible and avoid rotten or burnt foods.
Second, you need to eat enough green vegetables and fruits with Vitamin C. It is important to have enough fresh fruits and vegetables in order to prevent stomach cancer through your diet. People who eat antioxidant-rich green vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots and bell peppers can reduce the chance of contracting stomach cancer by 50% to 65%.
Last but not least, it is vital to have regular stomach checkups for an early diagnosis.