Epidemiology of gastric cancer in Korea

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Rapid aging, economic development, lifestyle westernization, hygiene improvement, and scientific development have contributed for the epidemiologic changes of gastric cancer. This study aimed to review the descriptive epidemiology, risk factors, and prevention of gastric cancer in Korea. Age-standardized incidence and mortality of gastric cancer have decreased and showed age effect and cohort effect. Annual percent change in the incidence of gastric cancer has been prominent in recent years. Major risk factor of gastric cancer is Helicobacter pylori infection. Although H. pylori infection was associated with only non-cardia gastric cancer in meta-analysis, H. pylori infection was associated with both non-cardia and cardia gastric cancer in Asian studies. The estimated population attributable fraction of H. pylori regarding gastric cancer incidence was about 76% in Korean. Cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking was associated with gastric cancer regardless of cardia and non-cardia gastric cancer. Cigarette smoking was estimated to be responsible for 28% of gastric cancer incidence in men and 2% in women. Obesity was risk factor for cardia gastric cancer but not non-cardia gastric cancer. This discrepancy between cardia and non-cardia gastric cancer was consistently shown in epidemiologic studies in Korea. Salt intake was also well-known risk factor of gastric cancer and prevalence of high sodium intake more than 2,000mg in Korean was 81.5%. For primary prevention of gastric cancer, eradication of H. pylori and life-style modification including no smoking, no alcohol drinking, weight control, and low sodium intake are important. Gastric endoscopy is recommended for secondary prevention of gastric cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-406
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Korean Medical Association
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidemiology
  • Prevention
  • Risk factors
  • Stomach neoplasms

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