Gastrointestinal cancer characteristics in Lebanon

Background and study aims: Gastrointestinal (GI) cancer is one of the top five common cancers in Lebanon. To implement a strategy for screening and early diagnosis through the initiation of prevention programs, a detailed study of GI cancers in Lebanon was conducted by focusing on the frequency and characteristics of each type.

Patients and methods: This retrospective study was conducted in Lebanon between 2001 and 2015 and included patients diagnosed with different GI cancer types. Data were collected from the registry of the National Institute of Pathology (NIP). The frequency of each type was calculated according to sex, age at diagnosis, anatomic location, histological type, and stage.

Results: The total number of patients diagnosed with GI cancers who had their histology done at the NIP between 2001 and 2015 was 5239. The sex (male/female) ratio was 1.016, with a mean age of 62.2 years. Colorectal cancer ranked first among GI cancers, with more than half of the cases (53.4%). More than 70% of the cases were located on the left side, followed by gastric (15.5%) and pancreatic (12.7%) cancers. Regarding gastric cancer, cardia became the dominant location. A shift from squamous cell carcinoma to adenocarcinoma in esophageal cancer was found during this period. Also, most GI cancers in Lebanon were diagnosed in the late stages.

Conclusion: This study is the first to evaluate GI cancers in Lebanon, which will help in screening strategies and burden studies.