We interviewed Dr. Benjamin Yip (Consultant Gastroenterologist in Singapore, and the Medical Director at Alpha Digestive & Liver Centre) on the topic of gastric cancer and its treatment.
What Is Gastric Cancer?
Gastric and stomach are two similar terms that refer to the organ that is situated right after the esophagus (i.e the food pipe). Gastric cancer (or stomach cancer) happens when the cell division in the stomach has gone disordered and becomes cancerous.
How Common Is Gastric Cancer In Singapore?
In Singapore, gastric cancer is the seventh most common type of cancer amongst males, and the ninth most common cancer amongst women (source: Singapore Cancer Registry). The age-standardised incidence ratio is approximately 9.7 cases per 100,000 population.
Likelihood Of Surviving Gastric Cancer
Overall, gastric cancer has poor survival rate, and the average survival rate in Singapore is around 36%. Early detection can increase the likelihood of someone surviving gastric cancer. It increases the chances of survival to 70% (for five-year survival). However, if the cancer has metastasised and spread to distant organs, the percentage of survival drops to about 6%.
Gastric Cancer Treatment
The treatment for gastric or stomach cancer can be divided into 2 categories, which are either Curative and Palliative. This is not dissimilar to treatment for other forms of cancer.
The best form of curative treatment (which has the objective of curing the patient) is typically a surgical procedure where the surgical team will remove part of the stomach or the whole stomach. Surgery may also be with or without accompanying chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Palliative treatment may similarly involve surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. However, the main focus will instead be on prolonging the patient’s life. In the final stages of the disease or if the patient is in a poor state, palliative treatment may instead focus on enhancing the patient’s quality of life by easing pain and cancer symptoms.
Gastric Cancer Treatment Cost
The cost for treating gastric cancer in Singapore can be broadly divided into surgery cost, chemotherapy cost and radiotherapy cost. The average cost for all of these three components in the public sector would be around $22,000. In the private sector, the cost will be higher.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.