HOME > Med in Japan Newsletter No.3 December 2012 > Gastrointestinal Cancer in Japan: Lifelong Lessons

Gastrointestinal Cancer in Japan: Lifelong Lessons

Japan ranks among the leading countries in terms of the longevity of its citizens. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD) shows life expectancy in Japan to exceed that in the USA and in the Scandinavian nations, and to have increased constantly from 2004 to 2010. At the same time however, Japan ranks among the highest among OECD nations in incidence of gastrointestinal cancer. The Japanese Society of Endoscopic Surgery reported a more than 20-fold increase in gastric cancer cases between 1991 and 2003 (Figure 2).
Prevention is better than cure
Dr. Tomohisa Uchida from Oita University is a leading pathologist in the field of H. pylori-related gastric cancer. He suggests that the subtypes of H. pylori hosted by Japanese differ from those hosted by other Asian populations.
For example, the subtypes hosted by populations in Tibet, Laos, Thailand and some other southeast Asian countries are not necessarily conducive to the development of gastric cancer. Dr. Uchida recommends undergoing a gastric examination at least once every three years. Using technology developed in Japan, the examination can be performed painlessly and without the use of anesthesia.
World-leading gastrointestinal oncologists and surgeons
Japanese hospitals are recognized world-wide for their expertise in the treatment of gastroenterological cancer. A report from the Japan National Cancer Center shows that the survival rate among Japanese gastroenterological cancer patients is high compared to those in other medically advanced nations such as the USA and the nations of Europe (Table 1).

Table 1: Site-specific cancer survival rate

Japan has conducted extensive research into the causes and treatment of gastrointestinal cancer. Dr. Shinei Kudo, one of the world’s most famous gastro- enterologists, developed a method to successfully distinguish between normal cells in the intestine and cancer cells. Dr. Kudo is also known as a leader in the field of gastroenterological endoscopy. A study conducted by the Federated Social Insurance Com- mission of Japan that compares healthcare in Japan to that in the UK and the Netherlands shows the surgical mortality rate in Japan to be significantly lower than in those two nations. Moreover, the same study shows the five-year survival rate for gastric cancer patients in Japan to be as high as 70%, to be compared to less than 50% in the other two nations (Figure3).

Figure 3 : Gastric cancer surgery Statistics

Variety of hospitals for treatment of gastrointestinal cancer
Due to the huge amount of patients with gastrointestinal cancer, there are various medical institutions in Japan with long history and most outstanding record in treating gastroenterological cancer. Med in Japan gathers the major medical institutions with excellent specialties in gastroenterological cancer diagnosis and treatment available for you in major cities in Japan. For more information regarding these institutions and the services they offer to patients from abroad, please contact Med in Japan.

Med in Japan Newsletter No.3 December 2012