HJN Health Disparity Update: Stomach Cancer

Stomach Cancer and Its Effects

Stomach cancer, or “gastric cancer” can develop in any part of the stomach and may spread throughout the stomach and to other organs; particularly the esophagus, lungs, lymph nodes, and the liver.

Symptoms do not usually appear in the early stages and by the time symptoms occur, the cancer has generally spread to other parts of the body. Sadly this is one of the main reasons for its poor prognosis.

While the cause for this particular cancer is not known, several risk factors have been identified, including age, sex, race, diet, a Helicobacter pylori infection, and smoking. More specifics about these risk factors can be found here.

Treatments can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of the above. More information about treatments can be found here.

The Numbers on Stomach Cancer and APIs:

  • The highest number of cancer cases in all Americans are 1) Lung, 2) Colon/Rectum, 3) Breast, and 4) Prostate. However, in Asian Americans, liver cancer is the third highest cancer and stomach cancer is the fourth highest.
  • Asian and Pacific Islander men are twice as likely to die from stomach cancer as compared to the non-Hispanic white population, and Asian/Pacific Islander women are 2.6 times as likely to die from the same disease.
  • Koreans have the highest incidence and mortality rates of stomach cancer among all Asian subgroups; a five-fold increased rate of stomach cancer over White American men.
  • Cancer data is limited for this population.

What can I do?

Because APIs have such higher rates than the general population for stomach cancer, there are a few key things we each can do:

  1. Educate your community about the risk factors and treatments available to fight stomach cancer. More importantly, find ways to provide this in-language.
  2. Talk to your legislators about the need to address this health disparity. There are already efforts put on by other community groups, such as the API National Cancer Survivors Network and the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training.
  3. Join one of the HJN subcommittees. If stomach cancer is an issue affecting the communities you work with, bring it up at the next Chronic Diseases Subcommittee meeting, or the Language Access Subcommittee meeting.

Resources

Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training

The National Cancer Institute

The Office of Minority Health

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