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Stomach Cancer on the Rise Among Young, White Adults
Date:5/4/2010

Reasons not known, but the trend is worrisome, experts say

TUESDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- While rates of lower stomach cancer continue to decline for most groups in the United States, a new study finds that among young, white men and women the rate is increasing.

The main cause of lower stomach cancer is infection with the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, while cancer in the upper stomach is often caused by acid reflux. Most stomach cancers are found in those aged 65 and older. In the United States, blacks, Asian Americans and Hispanics have the highest rates of stomach cancer, according to the researchers.

"We confirmed what had been previously understood about gastric cancer, that in most groups it has been declining over the last 30 years," said lead researcher Dr. Charles Rabkin, a senior investigator at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

"We found one exception to that trend, which was that young, white Americans, ages 25 to 39, actually had increasing rates of gastric cancer," he said. "That was an unexpected finding, and a disturbing finding."

The report is published in the May 5 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

For the study, Rabkin's team used data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program, which identified 39,003 cases of gastric cancer diagnosed from 1977 through 2006.

The researchers compared differences in the rates of stomach cancer over the period by age, race and other factors.

They found that, over 30 years, the rate of lower stomach cancer dropped from 5.9 to 4.0 per 100,000 people among whites, from 13.7 to 9.5 per 100,000 among blacks, and from 17.8 to 11.7 per 100,000 among other racial groups.

However, among whites, although the rates fell for most people, they increased for men and women aged 25 to 39. "The increase is estimated to be about 2.7 perce
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