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Beautiful beaches, delicious food and smooth rum; three things the island of Puerto Rico is well known for. But with the abundance of traditional deep-fried food as staple meals on the island comes the risk of developing certain types of cancer. 

In an effort to help educate the Puerto Rican community about cancer prevention and early detection, Moffitt Cancer Center hosts biannual events in San Juan. On Nov. 16, Dr. Jose Pimiento, a surgical oncologist from Moffitt’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program, joined the ranks of experts who have visited the island to help spread awareness. 

Dr. Jose Pimiento, surgical oncologist in the Gastrointestinal Oncology program at Moffitt Cancer Center

More than 140 guests learned how best to manage and treat stomach and esophageal cancers. Many of those in attendance were cancer patients and survivors who’ve sought treatment at Moffitt. The event marked the sixteenth time since 2011 that an expert from the cancer center has visited San Juan to educate the community about cancer.

Approximately 27,500 people in the United States will be diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2019, while nearly 18,000 will face an esophageal cancer diagnosis. With obesity-related cancers on the rise, Dr. Pimiento says there are certain modifiable factors that can help reduce the risk of developing these malignances.

“Managing alcohol consumption, maintaining a well-balanced diet to avoid obesity and not smoking, are all things people can easily change in their daily routines to reduce their cancer risk,” says Dr. Pimiento. “Other factors such as gender, age and genetics cannot be modified, so it’s important that we all do our part to stay healthy.”

Men over the age of 66 are more susceptible to both stomach and esophageal cancer. Other risk factors include:

Stomach Cancer Risk Factors

Esophageal Cancer Risk Factors

Helicobacter Pylori infection

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)


Barrett’s esophagus

CDH-1 mutation

Human papillomavirus infection (HPV)

Lynch syndrome

Plummer-Vinson syndrome



Some Familial polyposis syndromes


To learn more about Moffitt’s efforts in Puerto Rico and for information on upcoming events on the island, visit