Stomach or gastric cancer is the topmost killer: 23.9 percent of all cancer deaths in the country

Thukten Zangpo 

The Ministry of Health started a mass Helicobacter Pylori (H. Pylori) screening programme in Thimphu Thromde for persons between the ages of 18 and 75 on December 4.

The programme will continue until January 30.

H. Pylori is a type of bacteria that enters the body and lives in the stomach and digestive system; it can cause sores called ulcers. In some cases, the infection can lead to stomach cancer or gastric cancer.

Stomach or gastric cancer has been the topmost killer of its type in the country, with 89 deaths in the last five years, according to Annual Health Bulletin 2021. Eight people died of it in 2020, 30 people in 2019, 20 in 2018, 23 in 2017, and seven in 2016.

For every hundred thousand people, 8.3 percent of males and 5.2 percent of females died from gastric cancer over the last five years according to the Ministry of Health.

Most of the cases of stomach or gastric cancer were recorded in people above 60 years of age.

A person testing positive for H. Pylori infection will be given an H. Pylori eradication therapy (triple therapy).

Triple therapy is the first-line therapy for treating H. pylori infection, which consists of a proton pump inhibitor or ranitidine bismuth citrate with any of two antibiotics that may include amoxicillin, clarithromycin, and metronidazole, which are given for 7-14 days.

Another study found that 73.4 percent of the Bhutanese with H. Pylori required eradication therapy and improved sanitation for the prevention of reinfection.