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Studies address issues of risk and survival in rapidly increasing GI cancers

Bethesda, Maryland (Mar. 1, 2005) Studies published today by the American Gastroenterological Association shed new light on risk factors and predictors of survival associated with two types of cancer that are among the most rapidly increasing in the Western world esophageal and stomach cancer.

Women, Overweight Survive Longer with Esophageal and Stomach Cancer, Researchers Say
(Demographic and Lifestyle Predictors of Survival in Patients with Esophageal or Gastric Cancers, Trivers et al.)

In the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill publish findings of a population-based, case-control study of 1,142 patients diagnosed with esophageal or gastric cancer. After seven years of follow up, survival rates for both cancers were low between 12 and 20 percent. However, three factors increased the likelihood of survival:

  • Those who were overweight before diagnosis (BMI 25-30 kg/m2) had an approximately 30 percent lower risk of death compared to normal and underweight patients.
  • Patients with moderate to high incomes (= $15,000 per year) had an up to 38 percent lower risk of death compared to low-income patients (<$15,000 per year).
  • Women survived longer than men.

"Unfortunately, some of the characteristics associated with survival in this study are not easily modifiable, but we hope the findings will give patients more information about the possible course of their cancer," said lead study author Katrina F. Trivers, MSPH. "A better understanding of what can increase survival could help uncover preventive strategies."

While researchers are not currently able to pinpoint the underlying reasons for the study's results, they are certain the results are not attributed to traditional prognostic factors such as tumor stage or grade. In addition, age, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, gastroesophageal ref
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Contact: Kimberly Wise
media@gastro.org
301-941-2620
American Gastroenterological Association
1-Mar-2005


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