Researchers may tackle stomach cancer in Old Crow

A team of Alberta researchers may soon be travelling to Old Crow in a bid to help the community cope with sky-high stomach cancer rates.

A team of Alberta researchers may soon be travelling to Old Crow in a bid to help the community cope with sky-high stomach cancer rates.

Helicobacter pylori (h. pylori), a carcinogenic bacterium, has rates of infection that are twice as common in remote communities north of the Arctic circle — causing epidemic levels of stomach cancer.

In February, a team of 25 physicians, nurses and specialists from the University of Alberta were invited to Aklavik, NWT, to better understand the bacterium, and to work with the community in developing effective treatment methods.

“A fair amount has been learned about the infection in populations around the world … what hasn’t been figured out well is how to help communities deal with it,” said Karen Goodman, the team’s scientific director.

And current treatments in northern communities “don’t work very well,” said Goodman.

“A major goal for us is to find effective ways of helping the community feel satisfied that their concerns have been addressed and that they come away with a better understanding of what they’re dealing with,” she said.

When the team conducted H. pylori tests in Aklavik, 55 per cent of residents were shown to be infected — a rate roughly twice the Canadian average.

Approximately one per cent of people infected with H. pylori develop cancer of the stomach, while about five to 15 per cent end up with stomach ulcers, said team member Dr. Sander Van Zanten, in a release by the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation.

Lab work still remains to be done on the Aklavik findings — particularly regarding the types of antibiotics to which the bacterium is susceptible.

The goal is to create an effective cocktail of antibiotics for proper treatment, said Goodman.

The research team hopes to do the same thing in Old Crow as they did for Aklavik — but only if the community is on board.

The team’s work in Aklavik required intensive local participation, with over half the population voluntarily undergoing H. Pylori testing.

Last Wednesday, the researchers were invited to the International Gwich’in Gathering in Old Crow to present their findings and lay out the details of what an Old Crow-based H. pylori study would entail.

The team is expected to receive a response later in the month.

“From interactions with the community, we’re finding that there’s a positive response in having this project come to Old Crow,” said Goodman.

The H. Pylori bacterium still holds many secrets — and persistently baffles researchers as a “challenging health issue.”

At the moment, researchers aren’t even sure how the bacterium is transmitted.

“It’s not very clear cut if there’s an environmental source of it or if it’s an infection that’s strictly passed from person to person,” said Goodman.

“Which pathway it uses to enter the body is still a bit of a mystery as well,” she said.

“There may not be easy solutions, in terms of going in and getting rid of this and solving everyone’s problem — we also want the community to understand what we can do and what we can’t do.”

Just Posted

John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file
Catherine Elliott, Yukon acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, has announced two new COVID-19 cases in the Yukon.
Two new COVID-19 cases confirmed, Porter Creek Secondary prom cancelled

Graduating students are encouraged to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms

Jim Elliot/Yukon News
Ross and Cindy Smith are finding more reason to smile as the floodwaters that almost reached their farm house were beginning to recede on June 8.
Farms on South Klondike Highway experience severe flooding

The nearest body of water is a lake almost three kilometres away

X
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for June 11, 2021.… Continue reading

Whitehorse courthouse interior on April 6, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
CYFN launches pilot program for community impact statements

First Nations will receive support developing statements after major crimes

Israr Ahmed speaks at a vigil at the Whitehorse Mosque to honour the Muslim family killed in London, Ont. on June 10. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Yukoners gather to honour Muslim family killed in London

Like many communities across the country, Yukoners came together to honour the Muslim family murdered in London Ontario

The RCMP Critical Incident Program will be training in Watson Lake from June 14-16. Mike Thomas/Yukon News
RCMP will conduct three days of training in Watson Lake

Lakeview Apartment in Watson Lake will be used for RCMP training

John Tonin/Yukon News Squash players duke it out during Yukon Open tournament action at Better Bodies on June 5.
Four division titles earned at squash Yukon Open

The territory’s squash talent was on full display at the 2021 Yukon Open

Runners leave the start line of the 2014 Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay Skagway. The 2021 race will start at checkpoint six and remain in the Yukon only. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)
Klondike Road Relay returns to in-person after a virtual year

A modified, in-person Klondike Road Relay will be open to Yukoners

John Tonin/Yukon News Rang Pillai speaks at the Great Yukon Summer press conference on May 27.
‘The sooner the better’: Operators react to Great Yukon Summer campaign

The Great Yukon Summer campaign was announced May 27 and begins June 4

Mayor Dan Curtis stands in front of Minister Richard Mostyn and MP Larry Bagnell during an infastructure announcement made outside Jack Hulland Elementary School in Whitehorse on June 2. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Safety improvements planned for Whitehorse school zones

Enhanced pedestrian crosses are planned to make walking to school safer

2020 Haines Junction graduates line up for a photo on May 27, 2020 as part of a celebration parade through the village. While the St. Elias Community School is able to host an outdoor grad ceremony for 2021 grads this year, it will also host a parade and group photo as it did last year. (Marty Samis/Submitted)
Ceremonies and parades all part of 2021 grad

2021 sees old traditions return with some 2020 events adopted

A rendering of the proposed new city hall/services building and transit hub. (City of Whitehorse/submitted)
New city hall could cost $24.7 million

Council will be presented with latest plans June 7

Most Read