Open Access Open Badges Research article

Gastric cancer mortality trends in Spain, 1976-2005, differences by autonomous region and sex

Esther García-Esquinas1, Beatriz Pérez-Gómez23, Marina Pollán23, Elena Boldo23, Pablo Fernández-Navarro23, Virginia Lope23, Enrique Vidal23, Gonzalo López-Abente23 and Nuria Aragonés23*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Preventive Medicine. Ramón y Cajal Hospital. Madrid. Spain

2 Environmental and Cancer Epidemiology Unit. National Center for Epidemiology, Carlos III Institute of Health. Madrid, Spain

3 Consortium for Biomedical Research in Epidemiology & Public Health (CIBER en Epidemiología y Salud Pública - CIBERESP), Spain

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:346  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-346

Published: 28 September 2009



Gastric cancer is the second leading cause of oncologic death worldwide. One of the most noteworthy characteristics of this tumor's epidemiology is the marked decline reported in its incidence and mortality in almost every part of the globe in recent decades. This study sought to describe gastric cancer mortality time trends in Spain's regions for both sexes.


Mortality data for the period 1976 through 2005 were obtained from the Spanish National Statistics Institute. Cases were identified using the International Classification of Diseases 9th and 10th revision (codes 151 and C16, respectively). Crude and standardized mortality rates were calculated by geographic area, sex, and five-year period. Joinpoint regression analyses were performed to ascertain whether changes in gastric cancer mortality trends had occurred, and to estimate the annual percent change by sex and geographic area.


Gastric cancer mortality decreased across the study period, with the downward trend being most pronounced in women and in certain regions situated in the interior and north of mainland Spain. Across the study period, there was an overall decrease of 2.90% per annum among men and 3.65% per annum among women. Generally, regions in which the rate of decline was sharpest were those that had initially registered the highest rates. However, the rate of decline was not constant throughout the study period: joinpoint analysis detected a shift in trend for both sexes in the early 1980s.


Gastric cancer mortality displayed in both sexes a downward trend during the study period, both nationally and regionally. The different trend in rates in the respective geographic areas translated as greater regional homogeneity in gastric cancer mortality by the end of the study period. In contrast, rates in women fell more than did those in men. The increasing differences between the sexes could indicate that some risk factors may be modifying the sex-specific pattern of this tumor.