Gastric cancer remains the second most frequent and lethal malignancy worldwide, with a wide range of incidence rates in different populations. Reducing its incidence is a priority in many high-risk countries, and screening programmes are often advocated as an option. An effective screening programme should have the following characteristics: (i) the disease should be common in the population, otherwise the individual benefit will not offset the risk, cost and inconvenience of screening of the rest of the population; (ii) the diagnostic test(s) used should be safe, simple, inexpensive and reliable; and (iii) effective treatment should be available. With respect to gastric cancer, these conditions are not fulfilled completely in any population and therefore population-based screening does not appear to be a viable approach to the prevention of this neoplasia. In contrast, gastroscopic screening in selected high-risk subjects would seem appropriate. A more effective strategy, particularly in high-incidence populations, could be the widespread screening and treatment for Helicobacter pylori infection. This could result in the virtually complete elimination of chronic gastritis and its associated conditions, including most peptic ulcers, primary gastric B-cell lymphomas and a major portion of gastric epithelial tumours.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)