Article Abstract

Current approaches to gastric cancer in Peru and Mexico

Authors: Erlan Santos


In Peru, the incidence of gastric cancer is reported to be around 15.8 per 100,000 inhabitants and it is the second most common oncological disease in men and the third one in women. Additionally, a high mortality index was reported, especially among poor people. To address this issue, in 2008, Peru initiated several insurance treatment plans of oncological diseases with promising results. In Mexico, there is a high predominance of gastric cancer in male gender compared to female gender, even reaching a 2/1 ratio, and the detection rate of early gastric cancer is low (10% to 20%) which results in a mainly palliative treatment with an overall survival rate in 5 years about 10% to 15% only. In Peru, the average age at diagnosis is around 62.96±14.75 years old and the most frequent symptoms includes abdominal pain, indigestion, loss of appetite, weight loss and gastrointestinal bleeding, while in Mexico, some studies reported an average age at diagnosis around 60.3±4.1 years old (range, 23–78 years old) and the most frequent symptoms were postprandial fullness (74.4%), abdominal pain (37.2%), weight loss (18.6%), and melena (4.6%). The anemia rate was 65.1% with a mean Hb level of 6.14 g/dL. In Peru, the most common gastric cancer type is the intestinal-type adenocarcinoma (around 34%), followed by the diffuse-type adenocarcinoma (18.7%), whilst among Mexicans, the diffuse-type was reported in 55.2% of cases, the intestinal-type was reported in 28.2% and the undifferentiated-type corresponded to 6%. In both, Peru and Mexico, 90% of the associated factors includes tabaquismo, diets rich in salt, smoked foods, and a sedentary lifestyle. Family inheritance and advanced age and pharmacological-resistant Helicobacter pylori infection are also important. Poverty has been heavily associated with a higher incidence of gastric cancer. The management of gastric cancer patients in Peru is carried out by general surgeons or general surgical oncologists. In recent years, efforts have been made by the Peruvian government to establish specialized surgical centers which resulted in an improvement in morbidity and mortality rates, as well as an increase in the retrieval of lymph nodes. In Mexico, during the last 5 years, D1+ has been reported to be the most predominant lymphadenectomy-type, particularly in specialized surgical services. There have been a decrease in mortality rate from 7.5 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 to 5.6 per 1,000,000 inhabitants in 2012. Additional steps in order to continue improving gastric cancer management in Peru and Mexico are needed.