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Revista Colombiana de Gastroenterologia

Print version ISSN 0120-9957


OLIVEROS, Ricardo; PINILLA, Raúl E.; FACUNDO NAVIA, Helena  and  SANCHEZ PEDRAZA, Ricardo. Gastric cancer is a preventable disease: Strategies for intervention in its natural history. Rev Col Gastroenterol [online]. 2019, vol.34, n.2, pp.177-189. ISSN 0120-9957.

Gastric cancer is a public health problem, but there are no usable mortality and survival statistics for Colombia. The country has no early diagnosis program or strategy, and gastric cancer is not prioritized as a health problem. Existing studies show that most patients are in advanced stages by the time they are diagnosed.

Ninety percent of gastric cancers are considered to be consequences of long inflammatory processes in the gastric mucosa. H Pylori infections are the most common etiology of gastritis which can progress to atrophy, metaplasia, dysplasia and cancer. Gastric atrophy establishes a cancerization field which is prone to molecular and phenotypic changes that end in cancerous growth. It is well understood that a disease’s natural history provides a rational pathological clinical understanding for primary and secondary prevention strategies. Well-established evidence shows that the combination of primary (H pylori eradication) and secondary strategies (diagnosis and endoscopic follow-up of pre-malignant lesions) can prevent or limit the progression of gastric carcinogenesis. The risk of gastric cancer associated with H pylori gastritis can be stratified according to the severity and extent of atrophy of the gastric mucosa. This approach has been adapted to many different countries according to specific incidences of gastric cancer, socio-economic conditions and cultural factors. This requires the complementary participation of gastroenterologists, surgeons, oncologists and pathologists.

In the face of this public health problem, there has been no action by health authorities or the medical association. For this reason, we have reviewed management strategies that allow intervening into the natural history of the disease to reduce its incidence and mortality rate.

The implementation and standardization of these management strategies in our environment may benefit patients who are at high risk for gastric cancer. These strategies can be implemented in a rational way, similar to what is being done with rectal cancer, in countries without screening programs all over the world.

Keywords : Gastric cancer; helicobacter pylori; prevention; natural history.

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