Gastric cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Although the prognosis of gastric cancer is known to be poor, the survival rate for those who receive operative treatment is increasing recently by virtue of early diagnosis and aggressive surgical intervention. However, many surviving patients might suffer from osteoporosis and be at risk of developing multiple fractures in their later life.
Dr. Jong-Inn Lee, an expert in gastric cancer surgery in Korea, found many surviving patients complained of back pain. He investigated 133 surviving gastric cancer patients not diagnosed with osteoporosis previously and found 38.3 percent of them had osteoporosis. Being over 64 years of age, female sex, having a body mass index lower than 18.5, anemia, and back pain were newly found risk factors for osteoporosis.
One possible reason for the high prevalence of osteoporosis reported by the investigators is that the average age of gastrectomy in gastric cancer patients is about 60 years, and being older than 64 years was an independent predicting factor of osteoporosis.
Another possible reason is gastrectomy might affect calcium and other nutrient absorption, as most patients with osteoporosis had anemia and decreased body mass index.
The authors recommend all patients who have anemia, back pain, or are over 60 years be screened for osteoporosis by Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), regardless of tumor stage and type of reconstruction.
Journal reference: JS Lim, SB Kim, HY Bang, GJ Cheon, JI Lee, High prevalence of osteoporosis in gastric adenocarcinoma patients after gastrectomy. World J Gastroenterol 2007; 13(48): 6492-6497 http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/13/6492.asp
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