The importance of early detection in stomach cancer

1. The survival rate is high if stomach cancer is discovered early

The survival rate is known to be high when stomach cancer is discovered early. According to Japanese data, the survival rate for early-stage stomach cancer is high, with a 5-year survival rate* of 95.9% for persons with stomach cancer lesions limited to the stomach, among those diagnosed with stomach cancer between 2006 and 2008. This data show the importance of discovering stomach cancer early on.

* 5-year survival rate: The percentage of persons surviving 5 years after diagnosis with cancer.

Localized: Condition in which stomach cancer lesions are limited to the stomach.
Regionally limited: Condition in which cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes surrounding the stomach, but the lesions have not spread to adjacent organs, or they have spread to adjacent organs but have not metastasized to organs distant from the stomach
Distant metastatis: Condition in which lesions and cancer cells are found in organs or lymph nodes distant from the stomach
Figure prepared from Cancer Registry and Statistics, Cancer Information Service, National Cancer Center, Japan.

2. How do we find cancer? — Major testing methods for stomach cancer —

Various testing methods are used to detect stomach cancer, including X-ray exams and endoscopy. *

* Testing methods and screening systems differ by country or region.

X-ray exams

This method sees through the entire stomach with X-rays. When the test is performed, you need to swallow barium in order to clearly depict the form of the stomach, and a gas-foaming agent to inflate the stomach, and X-rays are taken while moving the body.


In endoscopy, an endoscope is inserted through the mouth or nose to directly observe the gastric mucosa. A CCD or other small imaging device is inserted into the tip of the endoscope, and the physician moves the endoscope while confirming the image of the inside of the stomach depicted on the monitor. Moreover, it is possible to harvest tissue suspected of being stomach cancer via a biopsy. By using a microscope or other instrument to perform a pathological examination of this tissue, it is possible to check for the presence of cancer cells and investigate their properties.

In cancer screening, tests and exams based on risk assessment for stomach cancer in terms of whether or not infection is present are being performed at some medical institutions in addition to the exams described above because infection with Helicobacter pylori bacteria is an important causal factor in the onset of stomach cancer.

3. Stomach cancer screening is important to the early detection of stomach cancer

In order to reduce stomach cancer mortality, stomach cancer screening via X-ray exam or endoscope is performed in Japan and South Korea, and reductions in the mortality through early diagnosis are expected. In Japan, stomach cancer screening is performed in persons over the age of 40 or 50 because the prevalence of stomach cancer increases with age after the age of 40 or 50.

This column has been prepared under the supervision of a physician for the purpose of providing general information on cancer.
It is not a substitute for the advice and services that should be provided by a physician or other healthcare professional. If you notice any health conditions, please consult your family doctor or a specialist.

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