The importance of the "Three Earlies":
a stomach cancer survivor in China

Yu Guo, responsible for endoscope-related sales at Olympus's Dalian office, discovered that he had stomach cancer through an endoscopy at the age of 40. He underwent surgery to remove half of his stomach. When he received the cancer diagnosis, he felt as if everything had gone dark before his eyes. Fortunately, the surgery was a success. Three years later, he continues to work energetically. We spoke with Yu, who deeply understands the importance of endoscopy and shared with us how his view of life has changed.

Stomach discomfort experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic

In February 2020, around the time when strict measures were being implemented against the COVID-19 pandemic in China, Yu first felt pain in his stomach. "Due to the ongoing restrictions, we had to stay at home with limited physical activity. I wondered if it was causing discomfort in my stomach," says Yu. Initially, he didn't pay much attention to it. However, even though he ate less due to a reduced appetite, his stomach would swell, accompanied by persistent pain. He became worried and contacted his friend, who was a doctor, on the phone. During that time, he took over-the-counter medicine, and the pain went away. "Back then, unless it was an emergency, we had to avoid going to the hospital. I had planned to get tested once the COVID-19 situation settled down," explains Yu.

Diagnosed with stomach cancer through endoscopy

Six months after the onset of abdominal pain, Yu had the opportunity to discuss his symptoms with a physician while visiting the hospital for work-related matters. While there, the doctor advised that "If you haven't had a stomach examination yet, you should consider having an endoscopy." "At that time, the pain in my stomach had subsided. I thought getting an endoscopy would take time. So I had been putting it off myself," reflects Yu. However, after receiving the recommendation from the close physician, he decided to proceed with the examination. "To be honest, it was my first experience with an endoscopy, but I was familiar with the process and knew what was going to happen, so I wasn't anxious. In fact, there was no pain at all. The sedative worked. I fell asleep and the examination finished quickly," says Yu.

A tumor of approximately 2 centimeters was discovered in Yu's stomach. The results of the pathological examination revealed that it was early-stage stomach cancer. "At first, I thought it was a joke and couldn't believe it. But then I thought about my family, especially my child who recently started elementary school. After reviewing the examination results, I quickly understood that treatment was necessary," adds Yu.

Stomach cancer removal through laparoscopic surgery

Yu discussed with doctors regarding treatment options and decided to undergo laparoscopic gastrectomy. The medical professionals involved with the surgery were all familiar faces to Yu from his work. Also, due to his professional background, he had a comprehensive understanding of the medical equipment and techniques used in his treatment. This provided him with a sense of reassurance and created a warm atmosphere during the treatment.

During the surgery, five incisions were made in the abdomen, and half of the stomach was removed. Despite lasting for six hours, the surgery was successfully completed. Since it was not an open surgery, Yu was able to walk in the corridor just three days after the operation. Consequently, he was released from the hospital within a week. After a total of approximately 20 days of medical leave, he was able to return to work.

Experiencing cancer: a shift in awareness towards health

When Yu had his surgery, he was only 40 years old. Yu had a background as a former professional soccer player who had been playing soccer since his student days. So, he had more confidence in his physical health than most people. However, the experience of illness led him to reevaluate his lifestyle habits. After the surgery, he refrained from consuming alcohol and smoking, prioritizing his health above all else. "Before the surgery, my weight was 105 kilograms, but now I have been maintaining 80 kilograms. I continue to exercise, and I'm mindful of my diet," shares Yu.

In fact, Yu's mother also had experience with stomach cancer and had three-quarters of her stomach removed. To prevent cancer recurrence and maintain good health, Yu discusses with his family about the importance of dietary habits and lifestyle more than ever before.

Looking to convey the importance of endoscopy

Yu suggests that if you want to maintain your health, it's good to focus on the "Three Earlies" which refers to early detection, early diagnosis, and early treatment.

"In China,” Yu notes, “many people worry that endoscopy is painful and consider the process to be quite bothersome. I was fortunate enough to have had a smooth examination. However, there are cases where individuals need to visit the hospital multiple times for pre-examinations." Yu consistently urges those close to him to get regular endoscopic examinations, stressing its critical importance. As a result, several of his friends followed his advice and took the examination. A couple of them have experienced early detection of diseases.

"With 14 years of experience at Olympus, primarily in endoscope-related sales, I feel that the importance of endoscopy is not widely recognized in China. With the experience that early detection through endoscopy saved my life, I aim to convey the importance of examinations and the 'Three Earlies' to as many people as possible," expresses Yu.

The conditions, feelings and treatment of each patient may vary from person to person. Please consult your doctor for your diagnosis and treatment.