(HealthDay News) – Patients with gastric and gastroesophageal junction (GEJ) cancer who survive for longer than three years after diagnosis seem to have distinct demographic and pathologic characteristics, compared with those who do not survive, according to research published online Sept 4 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Pamela L. Kunz, MD, of the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues conducted a population-based study involving 47,647 patients diagnosed with gastric or GEJ adenocarcinoma between 1988–2005 who were part of the California Cancer Registry, a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program.

Overall, only 20% of patients survived at least three years. The researchers found that longer survival correlated with several factors, including earlier stage, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, intestinal histology, well- or moderately-differentiated tumors, race (Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic), gender (female), socioeconomic status (highest quintile), treatment at an academic hospital, anatomic location (fundus/body/antrum), and hospital size (>150 beds). Patients with tumors originating in the fundus/body/antrum had longer median disease-specific survival compared to those with tumors originating in the esophagus/cardia (13.4 vs. 10.8 months). Median disease-specific survival was significantly longer for intestinal histology (28.9 months) compared with other (11 months) or diffuse histology (10.1 months).

“This large population-based study will serve as a platform for developing future work to better understand factors involved in long-term survivors of gastric cancer, including genetic, genomic, and survivorship studies,” the authors write.

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