updated 5/27/2011 10:16:54 AM ET 2011-05-27T14:16:54

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla., May 27, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the lead-up to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, the largest gathering of cancer experts in the world, a recent survey reports that 95 percent of U.S. adults do not think of "stomach cancer" first when presented with a list of the common symptoms of stomach cancer, the second deadliest cancer in the world.

According to a recent study conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Can't Stomach Cancer: The Foundation of Debbie's Dream among 2,398 U.S. adults age 18+, when asked what disease they think of first when someone has all the following symptoms: indigestion, heartburn, bloating, mild nausea and loss of appetite, "stomach cancer" was selected by only five percent. In addition, 93 percent of U.S. adults who have doctors have never spoken to them about screening for stomach cancer.

"Numbers don't lie," said Debra Zelman, a stomach cancer survivor and founder of Can't Stomach Cancer, a national philanthropic organization that raises funds for stomach cancer research and awareness. "What these results show us is that awareness of stomach cancer- its symptoms and risk factors -remains low, despite the fact that it is one of the deadliest cancers and the number two cancer killer in the world."

What is Stomach Cancer and Who is at Risk?

Stomach cancer, also known as gastric cancer, is diagnosed in nearly one million people globally each year and is responsible for 740,000 deaths each year worldwide, making it the second leading cause of cancer death in the world. According to the NCI, in the U.S. alone, more than 21,000 people were diagnosed with stomach cancer and more than 10,500 died from the disease in 2010. Currently, more than 64,000 Americans are living with stomach cancer and studies have shown that the incidence of stomach cancer in younger males is on the rise.

According to the study, 70 percent did not select either group who are most at risk for stomach cancer, Asian men and women of any age and Caucasian men over 50, from a list which also included Caucasian women over 60, African American men over 50 and Hispanic men over 50. While 38 percent of U.S. adults correctly chose excessive alcohol intake as one of two lifestyle factors which most increases the risk of stomach cancer, only 10 percent correctly identified high salt intake as a high risk factor.

The survey found that less than a quarter of U.S. adults (24%) were able to correctly identify bacterial infection associated with stomach ulcers (e.g., h. pylori infection), which is often found in Asian and South American populations, as one of the conditions most highly associated with stomach cancer. Only 13 percent were able to identify acid reflux as a condition that is most highly associated with stomach cancer.

"Stomach cancer is one of those cancers that, if you are aware of the risk factors and symptoms, you can get it diagnosed in early stage, which dramatically increases your chance of cure," stated Jaffer Ajani, M.D., professor of medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Chair of the Can't Stomach Cancer Medical Advisory Board. "Unfortunately, these survey results show that people are not familiar with the symptoms or risk factors of stomach cancer in the U.S. In Asia, where it is much more common, stomach cancer screening is a norm (for example, in Japan), like our screenings for prostate, breast, cervical and colon cancers. When you consider that the presence of two of the highest precursors to stomach and esophageal cancers, h. pylori and acid reflux, can lead to early diagnosis, physician and public awareness become critical to success."

"If you are Asian or Hispanic, you may want to be tested for h. pylori through a simple breath test. The high incidence of acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophogeal reflux disease), which has been associated with the rise of gastro-esophageal cancer in younger white males, is also an indicator," continued Ajani.

Screening for Stomach Cancer is the Key to Saving Lives

"Screening can save lives," advises Zelman. "The key to diagnosing stomach cancer early is to become educated and know if you are at risk. The three critical points here are education, awareness and being a proactive patient. If we can do that, these survey results may look very different in the future."

The survey was sponsored by Can't Stomach Cancer: The Foundation of Debbie's Dream and fully funded through a grant from ACT Biotech.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive via its QuickQuery omnibus product on behalf of Can't Stomach Cancer from May 12-16, 2011 among 2,398 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Can't Stomach Cancer at 954-889-5825..

About Can't Stomach Cancer: The Foundation of Debbie's Dream

Can't Stomach Cancer: The Foundation of Debbie's Dream is dedicated to advancing funding for stomach cancer research and clinical care, providing education and support for patients and their families, and creating awareness about the disease.

For more information on stomach cancer, go to www.411stomach.org

CONTACT: Terri Clevenger
         Continuum Health Communications
         (203) 856-4326
         tclevenger@continuumhealthcom.com

© Copyright 2012, GlobeNewswire, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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