Gastric cancer in Malaysia: the need for early diagnosis

Med J Malaysia. 2003 Dec;58(5):758-62.


Gastric cancer is an important cause of death among patients with malignancies in Malaysia. Survival of patients with gastric cancer is dependent on the stage at which diagnosis is made. We report our experience in dealing with gastric cancer in a major Ministry of Health Hospitals in Malaysia. A retrospective review of two hundred and fifty consecutive histologically proven gastric adenocarcinoma at Hospital Ipoh for the period January 1988 to 1998 was performed. The study confirms that gastric cancer is a disease of the elderly and has a male preponderance. It is also identifies the Chinese and Indians to be at increased risk of gastric cancer when compared to the Malays. The most striking finding in this study was the very late stage of disease at time of presentation. Eighty-two percent of the patients presented with stage IV disease and curative surgery was offered only to a 16% of them. In a substantial number of patients not even a palliative procedure was offered. Early detection is the key to improving survival in gastric cancer patients. There is an urgent need for clinicians to change their approach to the management of the disease. Patients with dyspeptic symptoms should be investigated early rather then wait for classical symptoms of gastric cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Malaysia / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stomach Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Stomach Neoplasms / epidemiology*