Over a three year period (1 July 1986 to 30 June 1989) all newly diagnosed and histologically proved cases of oesophageal and gastric cancer were recorded prospectively. Some 1515 cases of oesophageal cancer (1050 men and 465 women) and 966 cases of gastric cancer (789 men and 177 women) were registered. Seven patients had simultaneous oesophageal and gastric cancer. Age standardised incidence rates for oesophageal cancer were: men 43.6/100,000 per year; women 27.9/100,000 per year. The rates for gastric cancer were: men 36.7/100,000 per year, women 9.9/100,000 per annum. These figures were three to six times higher than those recorded by cancer registries in Banglore, Madras, and Bombay. The incidence rates for oesophageal and gastric cancer in Islamabad (southern district of Kashmir) were 4.1 to 5.4 times higher in men and 1.5 to 2.0 times higher in women than those for Kupwara (northern district of Kashmir). The incidence rates for oesophageal and gastric cancer in Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs were different. The epidemiology of oesophageal cancer in Kashmir was similar to that found in the 'Asian oesophageal cancer belt'. At the same time Kashmir also had an unprecedented high incidence of gastric cancer. Kashmiries have special personal and dietary habits. Further studies are needed to define the relation between these habits and the occurrence of oesophageal and gastric cancer.
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