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Although overall rates of noncardia gastric cancer (cancer of the lower stomach) have decreased in the United States, rates have increased in whites between the ages of 25 and 39 years. These findings were recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.[1]

Cancer of the stomach is called gastric cancer. Noncardia gastric cancer refers to cancer in the lower stomach. It arises from cells that line the surface of the stomach. An important risk factor for gastric cancer (particularly noncardia gastric cancer) is infection with the bacterium Helicobacter Pylori (H. pylori). Salt consumption as well as tobacco use have also been associated with increased risk of developing lower stomach cancer.

Although the frequency of gastric cancer has been declining, rates of gastric cancer remain high in many parts of the world. Because of the number of people affected and the generally poor prognosis of gastric cancer, researchers continue to search for ways to identify risk factors of developing the disease as well in order to improve disease prevention.

In the current study, researchers evaluated data from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, and identified 39,003 cases of lower stomach cancer. Overall annual incidence of lower stomach cancer decreased from 1977 to 2006 as shown below in Table 1.

Table 1: Annual incidence of noncardia stomach cancer from 1977 to 2006 by race.

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However, when the researchers evaluated race- and age-specific incidence, noncardia stomach cancer had significantly increased in whites between the ages of 25 and 39 years. Rates increased from 0.27 per 100,000 in 1977 to 0.45 per 100,000 in 2006.

Additional studies may further elucidate the risk factors that explain the increase in lower stomach cancer incidence in young, white Americans.


[1] Anderson WF, Camargo MC, Fraumeni Jr JF, Correa P, Rosenberg PS, and Rabkin C. Age-Specific Trends in the Incidence of Noncardia Gastric Cancer in United States Adults. JAMA. May 5, 2010;17:1723-1728.