Stomach Cancer Expert  
M.D. Sung-Hoon Noh 
Severance Hospital

 - President of Cancer Center, Severance Hospital
 - Former President of International Gastric Cancer Association 
 - Training in National Cancer Institute, USA: Examination of the
   Cancer Transition Mechanisms 
 - Training in Kanazawa University, Japan: Development of the new treatment
   for stomach cancer with peritoneal metastasis

World top-class treatment 
The current Korea’s stomach cancer treatment records are taking the world’s top rank. According to the reports by the Western countries such as USA, the complication rates of stomach cancer are reported up to 30 to 40 % and the death rates related surgeries record 4 to 10 %, in contrast with within 10 % of the complication rates and within 1 % the death rates related surgeries in Korea. It is the outstanding results that no one can overtake.

Last year, we had 53,000 foreign patients. It is an astonishment outcome, looking back even 10 years ago, Korean physicians used to learn overseas such as Japan but, now it is reversed and overseas doctors come to Korea to be taught highly advanced surgical techniques.

Hope for terminal progressive stomach cancer patients……
10 years ago, I had a patient with peritoneum and 50 (out of 70) lymph node metastasis, which was a severe terminal-progressive stomach cancer. His family was not really happy with the surgery because they thought it would give him more pain but he was early ‘60s and I convinced them of having a surgery. After all with having had chemotherapy, he has endured and has lived healthy so far. Now, he and his wife visit me every year for greeting. The patients like him make me appreciate and feel rewarded.  

A warm heart and cold head
What I think surgeons’ virtues are having a warm heart and a cold head. Stomach cancers vary depending on age, gender, nutrition conditions, cancer progress, cancer positions and etc. Especially surgeons deal with patients
with a mes (surgical knife). Internal medicine would be relatively flexible changing medications but surgeons determine everything about patients at the moments in the operating room.
Before performing a surgery, I need to decide whether or not this case is operable and every single moment of operation, the method and range of surgery should be considered. After the surgery, I need to make a therapeutic decision depending on the status of the patient so decision making is very important for surgeons.
Moreover it is based on human-beings, especially the weak so it is important to be warm and to listen to patients while seeing patients and always agonize what surgery and treatment are the best choice for my patients considering as
if they are my family.

Thinking on the side of patients
I have always been in the hospital even it is a holiday as long as I am in Korea because I have the inpatients who had surgeries by me. That is my responsibility and they are whom I have to take care of. It is not always easy but what I decided as soon as I had became a doctor was to think from the view of patients so whenever tough moments come to me, I remind myself of that resolution. The valuable clues to cancer treatments eventually come from patients.
While I am deep in thought “How can I resolve such agony for patients after the stomach cancer surgery?”, some ideas come up and the surgical techniques are developed and adapted. Gathering these efforts, complications become small thus the prognosis gets better. Physicians need to make an effort to approach patients with their own needs because that is the reason why we exist.

The hospitals where patients are the first priority with family atmosphere
Severance Hospital has been 130 years, which means where has seen the largest number of patients in Korea. The experiences, researches and treatment capability and network of cancer treatments that can offer the best consultation to cancer patients are the best competitiveness.
The biggest strength of cancer hospital is to operate ‘Best Team’ for the multidisciplinary approach, which is now referred from the point of view as
‘our patients’ instead of as ‘my patients’. It approaches each patient comprehensively and omnidirectionally.
Secondly, we will make the hospital with careful concern and consideration.
By far, it is the fact that we have sometimes been remiss in patients’ emotional and psychological areas focusing too much on cancers themselves. So we now flexibly operate ordinary tests and doctor’s rounding and make an effort to consider patients lessening pain, waiting hours and the anxiety level with precise explanation.
Thirdly, the holistic consult system from the prevention to treatment and education of cancers is operating; ‘Cancer Information Center’ to inform right medical knowledge and to interact that information between patients and ‘Alternative Medical Center’ to provide with the ‘harmonized cure and care’ treatment instead of just based on ‘cure’.

If early detected, full recovery with a simple surgery
To prevent a stomach cancer, diet and exercise are not only important but also positive thinking and optimistic life style are necessary. Stomach most reflects our mind. If you are stressed out, mind control helps your stomach keep healthy.
Salty and spicy food and smoked meat are the well-known stomach cancer factors. Regular diet with low salt and small amount and avoiding smoked food need to be habituated.
However if you have a stomach cancer despite all these efforts, it is important to increase the cure rate as early as possible. Even though you have a stomach cancer, early detection can completely cure the cancer so that regular check-up is very important. It is recommended to have gastric endoscopy every 2 years from over 40 years old.