Common Medication Risk Of Gastric Cancer. A November article from Medscape reveals a concerning finding that the use of proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, may be linked to more than double the risk of developing gastric cancer. These substances are among some of the most purchased medications in the world.
The relationship involves a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori. Though the bacterium is harmless to many, infections may be a precursor to gastric cancer in some individuals. The bacterium’s helical shape may have evolved to allow it to penetrate the lining of the stomach. Eliminating Helicobacter pylori infections has, in past studies, lowered the risk of developing gastric cancer by as much as 33 percent, and in some cases, up to 47 percent. However, some patients still receive gastric cancer diagnoses after the infection is wiped out.
New research now suggests that, even after the infection is eliminated, continued use of PPIs may contribute to the development of gastric cancer.
Dr. Wai Keung Leung of Queen Mary Hospital in Hong Kong led the study. He and his colleagues studied a Hong Kong health database. They examined the risk of developing gastric cancer in those who used PPIs and those who used histamine-2 receptor antagonist medications, or H2RA. The study’s population included 63,397 adults who had been successfully treated for Helicobacter pylori during a 9-year period from 2003 to 2012.
In the study, the authors explained, “PPIs are much more potent than H2RA in terms of gastric acid suppression, and previous studies did not reveal any association between gastric cancer development and H2RA. Hence, H2RA was selected as a negative control exposure in our study.”
The study followed the population for approximately 7.6 years. Of the 63,397 adults included in the study, 153 (approximately 0.24 percent) ended up developing gastric cancer after being treated for the bacterial infection. All of the patients reported long-term gastritis at the time they were diagnosed. It was confirmed that the bacterial infection had been eradicated at the time of diagnosis as well.
The median age at which the cancer was diagnosed was 71.4 years. The median time from eliminating the bacterial infection to the gastric cancer diagnosis was 4.9 years.
The study’s findings reveal that an additional 4.29 gastric cancer cases per 10,000 in a given year may be related to PPI use. Interestingly, those who used H2RAs exhibited no increased risk of gastric cancer. The authors noted that this “further supports the specific role of PPIs on gastric cancer development.” The researchers also added that the risk of gastric cancer grew with more frequent PPI use.
The authors did note that demographic variables, such as obesity, diet, alcohol consumption, smoking, and family history were not analyzed in the study.
What is Gastric Cancer?
Gastric cancer and stomach cancer are interchangeable terms that indicate cancer of the lining of the stomach. The most common cause of this cancer is Helicobacter pylori infection. It is estimated that more than 60 percent of gastric cancer cases are caused by such an infection.
Other risk factors include obesity, consuming pickled foods, and smoking.
The Multiple Phases of Gastric Cancer
In Stage 0, cancer is limited to the stomach’s inner lining. At this point, it may be treated by endoscopic mucosal resection.
In Stage IA, cancer has spread to the second or third layers of the stomach. Surgery is usually recommended at this phase. If it has reached the surrounding lymph nodes, it is at Stage IB. Chemotherapy and radiation may be recommended.
In Stage II, cancer has spread to the second layer and distant lymph nodes, the third layer, and nearby lymph nodes, or to all four layers of the stomach. Treatment is the same as in Stage I, through chemotherapy may also be needed in some cases.
In Stage III, cancer has spread to the third layer and distant lymph nodes, to the fourth layer and adjacent tissues, or to distant lymph nodes. Treatment is the same as in Stage II. At this point, it is still possible to cure cancer in some cases.
By Stage IV, cancer has spread to adjacent tissues and distant lymph nodes, or it has spread to other organs. A cure is unfortunately rare at this point. Treatment may include surgery, stents in the digestive tract, chemotherapy, and laser treatment.
Its earliest symptoms include upper abdominal pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and heartburn. As cancer progresses, symptoms may include yellowing of the skin and eyes, blood in the stool, difficulty swallowing, and weight loss.
Gastric cancer is generally diagnosed with the use of endoscopy. A biopsy is taken during the procedure. Next, medical imaging is often completed to determine if cancer has spread to other organs. Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and targeted therapy.
In the United States, the five-year survival rate is 28 percent. Gastric cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer and is the third leading cause of death from cancer. Gastric cancer comprises 7 percent of all cancer diagnoses and 9 percent of cancer deaths.
What if I Have a Serious Illness That Was Caused by a Medication?
Pharmaceutical companies have a duty to provide high quality, safe, effective medications for consumers. If the medicines produced by these companies are not safe, the pharmaceutical companies may be liable for damages. In some cases, improper testing has been conducted on the medications. In others, the pharmaceutical companies may have misled the public about the safety of these substances.
If you were harmed by a certain medication, you should consult with a drug injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure your legal rights are protected. There are deadlines in place that limit how long individuals have to file legal claims. If a claimant misses the deadline, he or she may lose the right to ever seek damages from the pharmaceutical company.
After you make an appointment to meet with an attorney, you should gather the medical records you have and jot down a timeline of the events in your claim-such as the date you started taking the medication, how often you took it, and for what symptoms. You should make a note of the adverse side effects you suffered and when they began as well. It is also helpful to create a list of your medical providers, as well as the names of any other individuals who know your claim (for example, a spouse who may testify about how the medication has affected you).
If you prevail in your claim, you may be awarded damages, including:
- Medical expenses you incurred because of the medication’s side effects
- Lost wages or earnings due to time you missed from work
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- The cost of any alterations you have had to make to your home
- Loss of consortium
- Future medical expenses
An experienced drug injury attorney will pursue all available damages.