November is Gastric Cancer Awareness Month!
November is another important month for the digestive cancers community as it is dedicated to raising awareness around gastric cancer. Each year ~136.000 people are diagnosed with gastric cancer, while ~97.000 patients die of the disease in Europe, placing this cancer type in sixth place among the most common causes of cancer-related deaths.1 Gastric cancer costs are around €5 billion each year in Europe, of which €1,9 billion relate to direct costs.2,3
Gastric cancer requires a 360-degree, holistic and adequate disease management approach, which encompasses every aspect of the patient journey and includes the patient in every part of the decision-making process.
Successful strategies to manage gastric cancer should focus on prevention and early diagnosis but also on the morbidities, which frequently arise when treating this cancer. At DiCE we welcome the efforts being put into cancer preventive measures in the EU Beating Cancer Plan (BECA), including health promotion but also effective treatments across Europe of Helicobacter pylori infections, a major risk factor for gastric cancer.4
However, there is still a lot to be done including harmonisation of disease management guidelines. In addition, it is crucial that patients with gastric cancer are systematically referred to high-volume, multidisciplinary expert centres where medical experts provide optimal diagnosis, treatment, care and follow-up to help reduce disease co-morbidities, improve patient outcomes and survival rates.
Two key aspects that still need serious consideration and improvement are the nutritional and mental health challenges that gastric cancer patients face. Prevalence of nutritional problems in patients with gastric cancer call for the presence of specialised dietitians or nutritionists at every step of the patient journey, including before, during and after treatment. Mental health management requires adequate psyco-oncology services to be included in the standard care services in all national cancer care facilities.
Our European Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer Roadmap5 offers a comprehensive view of the challenges of gastric cancer and provides specific recommendations on this topic, which is central to DiCE’s current and future work.
For patients, we have prepared a booklet on dietary advice for patients with oesophageal and gastric cancer. We encourage our Member Organisations working with patients with gastric cancer to reach out to us to explore how we can make this booklet available in your language.
DiCE has also produced a social media calendar to help raise awareness with our audiences of this lesser-known and difficult to treat cancer. Every day throughout the month we invite you to like, share and follow our posts to help raise awareness. In order to spread the word across Europe our Member network has also been asked to support the efforts in their countries. If you are a Member and you are yet to explore the calendar, you can find it in the Member Zone or please contact us for more information.
1. Data from the European Cancer Information System, 2020.
2. Hofmarcher T, Lindgren P. The Cost of Cancers of the Digestive System in Europe. IHE report. 2020;6. IHE: The Swedish .Institute for Health Economics, Lund, Sweden.
3. The costs of oesophageal and gastric cancer – Factsheet; Digestive Cancers Europe, 2021
4. Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan v.24; 25 Jan 2021; assessed 22 October 2022.
5. The European Oesophageal and Gastric Cancer Roadmap; Digestive Cancers Europe, 2021.