Will eradication of Helicobacter pylori infection influence the risk of gastric cancer?
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Gastric adenocarcinoma is a disease of high mortality and poor prognosis that is second only to lung cancer as a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. Although gastric cancer has a multifactorial etiology, infection with Helicobacter pylori is highly associated with its development. New information on bacterial and host genetics and results of epidemiologic studies suggest that better identification of individuals at high risk for gastric malignancy may be possible. Studies suggest that cure of H pylori infection may be associated with retardation of glandular atrophy and intestinal metaplasia but not reversal of dysplasia. Theoretically, it is attractive to believe that eradication of H pylori infection might prevent gastric cancer; however, studies supporting this hypothesis are not yet available. Public policy strategies for the identification of patients at risk for H pylori-related gastric malignancy are likely to be complex, but testing and treating for the infection earlier rather than later in life is anticipated to be the more beneficial approach.
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