Two sisters from the U.K. have had their stomachs removed in an effort to avoid the cancer that has ravaged their family.

Meeta Singh, 25, and her sister, Ravindra, 29, both carry a rare hereditary gene, which gives them an 80 percent chance of developing gastric cancer.

They have seen the disease claim the lives of their father, two uncles, grandmother and 20-year-old cousin.

Their mutant E-cadherin gene affects just 100 families in the world, but is described by doctors as "dangerous" and responsible for a "particularly nasty" cancer.

After tests in April 2008 showed that the sisters both carried the gene, Ravindra, a recruitment consultant from Manchester, decided to have her stomach removed as a precaution.

Doctors performed a gastrectomy at Leeds' Nuffield Hospital in June this year, having discovered in the pre-op tests that she had early stage gastric cancer.

Meeta, who is studying for a master's degree in forensic psychology, also decided to have her stomach removed as a precaution — despite tests showing she has not yet developed cancer.

On Monday, surgeons at St. James's Teaching Hospital in Leeds removed her stomach, before reconnecting her esophagus directly to her small intestine.

Meeta, who lives with her mother Kamaljit in Birkenhead, near Liverpool, said losing her stomach was a ''small price to pay" for staying healthy.

"I was more focused on my sister, but then as soon as she was OK, it dawned on me that I could be next," she said.

"I was quite reluctant at first but I decided I would rather have the surgery as a precautionary measure rather than when I have cancer. It's definitely worthwhile because you can't really put a price on your life."

Having undergone their operations the sisters can only eat tiny amounts of food supplemented by vitamins and are expected to lose 20 percent of their body weight.

However, doctors say it is possible to live an entirely normal life without a stomach because it is used primarily for food storage and is not essential for digestion.

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