Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Gastric cancer in Scotland: changing epidemiology, unchanging workload.

British Medical Journal 1991; 302 doi: (Published 01 June 1991) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1991;302:1305
  1. D M Sedgwick,
  2. J A Akoh,
  3. I M Macintyre
  1. Gastrointestinal Unit, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the changes in incidence of and mortality from gastric cancer in Scotland between 1978 and 1987 and in the operative workload in Lothian between 1979 and 1988. DESIGN--Analysis of national incidence statistics for gastric cancer derived from the Scottish national cancer registry, deaths from gastric cancer recorded by the registrar general for Scotland, and Lothian surgical audit data. SETTING--Scotland and Lothian Health Board area. PATIENTS--Patients in Scotland with gastric cancer during 1978 to 1987 inclusive; patients in Scotland with gastric cancer recorded on their death certificate as cause of death during 1978 to 1987; patients who had an operation in Lothian for gastric cancer during 1979 to 1988. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Changes in incidence of and mortality from gastric cancer in Scotland from 1978 to 1987 and in the number of operations performed for gastric cancer in Lothian from 1979 to 1988. RESULTS--Mortality from gastric cancer in Scotland fell by about 25% over the 10 years. The incidence and standardised incidence of gastric cancer showed a marginal decline of about 9%. The differences in trends between incidence and mortality were significant (p less than 0.05). CONCLUSIONS--This study shows that the surgical workload associated with gastric cancer is not declining. This is because the incidence has remained almost static, which may be due to the relative increase in the numbers of older people in the population, who are at greater risk of developing gastric cancer. Gastric cancer should not be regarded as a disease in decline. Incidence and workload should determine resources allocated to this disease rather than mortality statistics.