Gastric cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in Kashmir, often diagnosed late and having high mortality, doctors and experts said here on Tuesday.

At a surgical conference organized at Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar here cancer and surgeon specialists called for early diagnosing of gastric or stomach cancers for better outcome of the treatment. Calling gastric cancer the “captain of death” in men in Kashmir, the expert panel at the one day surgery education event expressed concern at the

fact that most of these cancers get diagnosed in later stages when prognosis is “not very good”.The event was organized by Department of General and Minimal Access Surgery of GMC and was titled “Innovations in Surgical Skills, Special Emphasis on Stomach cancer in Kashmir”. Prof Showkat A Jeelani, Head Department of Surgery at GMC said that it was very important for medical practitioners and healthcare planners to devise a strategy to minimize the risk of such cancers among vulnerable populations. “The need of the hour is that patients at high risk are screened and well planned interventions be put in place to mitigate health issues for this population,” he said. He called gastric cancer “a deadly disease”, more so due to delayed diagnosis.Doctors said that there were areas in Kashmir that had “cluster cases” of gastric cancer and such areas needed to have population based screening.Prof Aijaz Malik, Expert Surgeon at SKIMS said that some belts in north Kashmir such as Sopore, Baramulla and Kupwara and some parts of south Kashmir like Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag were seen to have more cases of gastric cancers compared to other parts of Kashmir. He said it was not possible to comment on

what put these areas at risk as “no one has researched why?”The educational event saw over 30 papers on innovative surgical techniques being presented, with over 250 delegates from across the state attending it. The principal GMC, Prof Samia Rashid was the Chief Guest at the event.Threadbare discussion on the latest innovations and protocols in surgeries of cancer stomach were also held. During the program the doctors laid stress on evidence based treatment preferences as well as critical analysis of each surgical technique and adjuvant therapies. “There is a need to have a tumor board in our hospital and every case should have a panel of experts to plan a better outcome of the disease,” Prof Mumtaz Din Wani expert surgeon at GMC said. He also stressed on inter-departmental communication and scientific research in this direction.In context of stomach cancers, experts also deliberated upon the various steps that could help decrease the mortality. “We need to have endoscopy facilities available at sub-district and district

hospital level,” Prof Malik said. . Dr Iqbal Saleem Organizing Secretary of the event laid emphasis on “selecting the right patient for surgery and proper staging of the cancer” to achieve better results. Dr Mushtaq Chalkoo, senior laparoscopic surgeon at SMHS Hospital said there was need for surgeons to educate themselves more about gastric cancer surgical techniques.Gastric cancer is the most commonly encountered cancer contributing 18.8 percent to total cancers in Kashmir according to 2016 study titled “Epidemiology of Cancers in Kashmir, India: An Analysis of Hospital Data”.According to another study “Cancer trends in Kashmir; common types, site incidence and demographic profiles: National Cancer Registry 2000-2012”, stomach cancer showed a significantly increasing trend in Kashmir.

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