Gastric Cancer in Africa

by 02/11/2012 12:02:00 0 comments 760 Views
Gastric Cancer in Africa

Abstract

Gastric cancer is a major contributor to mortality worldwide, yet its incidence varies widely around the world in a way which our current understanding of aetiology cannot fully explain. Incidence data from Africa are weak, reflecting poor diagnostic resources, but there are firm data on intestinal metaplasia and gastric atrophy which are important steps in the carcinogenesis pathway. The available registry data suggest that incidence is unlikely to be dramatically different from Europe or North America. Helicobacter pylori infection is an important permissive factor in the development of cancer, but H. pylori seroprevalence is high all over Africa and cannot clearly be correlated with cancer. However, there is evidence that specific bacterial virulence genes, particularly vacA and iceA allele1, do contribute to cancer risk. Intestinal metaplasia and gastric atrophy have been the focus of twelve studies and are common in Africa. Epstein-Barr virus, which causes 10% of cancer worldwide, is the focus of only one African study. Work in other continents demonstrates that other risk factors apply only to one or other of the two major histological types, intestinal and diffuse. Diet, smoking, alcohol and salt intake predispose to the intestinal type of cancer, but genetic factors predispose to the diffuse type. There is a pressing need for information on the histological types occurring in Africa, and their associated risk factors. Most urgently, information on dietary predisposition to cancer is required to inform public health policy with respect to the demographic transition (urbanisation and lifestyle changes) which is occurring all over the continent.