New York State Department of Health Recognizes National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

Department Informs New Yorkers About Risks Related to Stomach Cancer and Prevention Opportunities

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 8, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health recognizes National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month by informing New Yorkers about stomach cancer, its risk factors, and opportunities for prevention.

"While stomach cancer mostly affects older New Yorkers, we encourage everyone to think about risk factors and preventive measures," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said." Staying away from tobacco and alcohol, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can make a difference, and we want to see even more New Yorkers beat cancer and live full and healthy lives.

Stomach cancer, also called gastric cancer, occurs most often in older people and is rare in people under the age of 50. Men are more likely to get stomach cancer and have a higher mortality due to stomach cancer than women. In New York State, stomach cancer occurs more frequently and has a higher mortality among individuals who are Asian or Pacific Islanders or who are Black, than White individuals.

In the past, stomach cancer was one of the most common cancers among New Yorkers, but this is no longer the case. Stomach cancer rates have declined during the past 40 years. Each year in New York State, about 1,200 men and about 800 women are diagnosed with cancer of the stomach. More than 450 men and 300 women in New York die of the disease each year.

There are certain factors that increase a person's risk of developing the disease. Risk factors include:

  • H. pylori (Helicobacter pylori): Individuals who are infected with the bacterium H. pylori are at higher risk for stomach cancer than people who are not infected. However, most people with H. pylori do not develop stomach cancer.
  • Family history: People with close relatives (parents, brothers/sisters, children) who have had stomach cancer are at greater risk for the disease. Current research indicates that about 30 percent of stomach cancers may be inherited.
  • Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of getting stomach cancer. A current smoker's risk for stomach cancer may be about double that of a non-smoker.
  • Alcohol: Heavy drinking increases the risk of stomach cancer.
  • Ionizing radiation: Individuals exposed to high levels of ionizing radiation, such as radiation treatment for other diseases, are at higher risk for developing stomach cancer.
  • Workplace exposures: Individuals who work in industries that are dusty, such as foundries, steelmaking, and mining, are at increased risk of developing stomach cancer. Workers in the rubber industry, oil refineries, and workers exposed to diesel exhaust are also at increased risk for the disease.
  • Diet: Diets low in vegetables, fruit, and high-fiber foods, or high in salted, smoked or poorly preserved foods may increase the risk for stomach cancer.

The Department continues to encourage New Yorkers to educate themselves about stomach cancer, its risk factors, and preventive measures. The Department has also established extensive programs and initiatives to help educate New Yorkers about cancer, as well as provide support to individuals and families who are impacted by the disease.

The New York State Cancer Registry participates in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, End Results and Epidemiology program to collect standardized information on all cancer cases in New York. This information allows researchers, doctors, policy makers, public health professionals, and members of the public to monitor the burden of cancer, evaluate cancer prevention and control programs, and identify focus areas for research and policy development.

The New York State Cancer Registry also actively collaborates on research studies with a goal of improving cancer outcomes and reducing health disparities. In addition, the New York State Cancer Registry participates in the Virtual Pooled Registry- Cancer Linkage System (VPR-CLS) that allows researchers to conduct minimal risk linkage studies with multiple central cancer registries. The New York State Cancer Registry and cancer statistics can be found here.

The New York State Cancer Consortium is a statewide network made up of more than 200 members from the public and private sectors whose missions are aligned with reducing cancer incidence and mortality. Consortium Action Teams come together to address some of New York's highest burden of preventable cancers, including colorectal cancer, cancers caused by the human papilloma virus, lung cancer, skin cancer, and health and wellness issues for New York's many cancer survivors. The Department is an active member, participating in the Consortium's Steering Committee, providing support to the committee and other Consortium work groups, and facilitating the development and evaluation of the New York State Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan.

Enrolling in health care coverage can improve access to medical care and reduce the risk of illness, including cancer. To enroll in health coverage or to find out about financial assistance to lower the cost of health coverage, contact the NY State of Health at 1-855-355-5777 (TTY: 1-800-662-1220) or visit Resources | NY State of Health.

The New York State Cancer Services Program provides breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screenings, and diagnostic services at no cost to individuals who are uninsured or underinsured. To find a nearby screening location, visit New York's Cancer Services Program.

More information on stomach cancer, including, prevention, treatment, and resources can be found here.