Screening for Stomach Cancer
Screening is the process of looking for diseases early, before symptoms occur. Sometimes the cancer may have spread when symptoms appear. Screening increases the probability of finding the cancer at an early, curable stage.
Common risk factors include:
- Infection with Helicobacter pylori
- Diet high in salty and smoked foods
- Diet low in fruits and vegetables
- Foods contaminated with aflatoxin fungus
- Family history of stomach cancer
- Long-term stomach inflammation (chronic gastritis)
- Pernicious anaemia
- Stomach polyps
There is no standard or routine screening test for stomach cancer. In Japan and Korea, where this disease is very common, the stomach cancer screening programme in these countries recommend that their citizens, both males and females, undergo 2-yearly screening test starting from 40 years of age.
Screening may be performed via:
1. Upper GI Endoscopy (Gastroscopy)
- It allows direct visualisation of the tumour and biopsy for tissue diagnosis. The presence of Helicobactor pylori can also be tested at the same time. The patient will experience minimal discomfort.
2. Barium meal
- It permits identification of mucosal irregularities and has similar diagnostic efficacy as endoscopy.
High risk groups that may benefit from stomach cancer screening include:
- Patients with partial gastrectomy
- Patients with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) or Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colon Cancer (HNPCC)
- Immigrants or expatriates from countries like Korea and Japan where stomach cancer is more common.
Should you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact Nexus Surgical Digestive Disease Centre.