• Stomach cancer:16th most common cancer among Americans
  • It is the second leading cause of death worldwide in 2018
  • >27,510 new cases to be diagnosed this year

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have discovered that individuals under 60 years of age who suffer from stomach cancer have a certain ‘genetically and clinically distinct’ disease. They reported that this new, early-onset form of the disease often grows and spreads more quickly, not only has a worse prognosis but also is more resistant to traditional cancer treatments.

While the past few decades have seen a decline in the rates of stomach cancer among older individuals, this new early-onset cancer is found to be on the rise currently contributing to more than 30% of all stomach cancer diagnoses.

"I think this is an alarming trend, as stomach cancer is a devastating disease," MedicalXpress quoted the study’s senior author Travis Grotz, M.D., a Mayo Clinic surgical oncologist. "There is little awareness in the U.S. of the signs and symptoms of stomach cancer, and many younger patients may be diagnosed late—when treatment is less effective."

The team of researchers reviewed 75,225 different cases using several cancer databases to get stomach cancer statistics in the period 1973-2015. Currently, cancer diagnosis happens at an average age of 68 but younger individuals aged 30-50 are found to be riskier than earlier.

Though there isn’t any clear cutoff age that defines early-onset stomach cancer, this study has found that the incidence of late-onset stomach cancer has decreased by 1.9% and the early-onset stomach cancer is currently now exceeding 30% of all gastric cancer cases.

Stomach cancer which was typically diagnosed among older individuals aged 70 and above is currently seen in people aged 30-50, reported by the authors. Such an increase in the rates of early-onset disease isn’t from previous detection or screening. Also, there isn’t any universal screening for gastric cancers and thus younger individuals happen to get diagnosed only at a later-stage disease compared to older individuals with stomach cancer.

Apart from being life-threatening, early-onset gastric cancer is also distinct on a molecular and genetic basis, reported the researchers. Also, other risk factors including smoking tobacco weren’t found to be correlating with the early onset of stomach cancer.

Studies like this are expected to raise awareness and increase physician suspicion of the deadly disease, particularly among younger individuals.

stomach cancer symptom stool color
stomach cancer symptom stool color derneuemann - Pixabay