Three Years Between Cancer Screenings

Gastric cancer screenings should occur every three years in high risk areas

(RxWiki News) Stomach or gastric cancer is neither rare nor common in the US, with about 21,000 cases diagnosed annually. Worldwide, though, gastric cancer is both common and deadly.

Getting screening for stomach cancer at three-year intervals is the best timetable for people living in regions where the cancer is common, including Korea, Japan and China.

"Unexplained weight loss always needs to be examined by your doctor."

Those are the conclusions of a study conducted by Il Ju Choi, MD, PhD, of the National Cancer Center (NCC) in Korea and his colleagues.

Gastric cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related death around the world. The disease kills about a half million people every year.

The aim of this research was to determine screening schedules that detected stomach cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages.

For example, in Korea, a stomach cancer screening every two years is recommended for people over the age of 40.

An endoscopy is used for stomach cancer screenings. A tiny flexible tube, equipped with a light and camera is used to examine the upper digestive system.

For this study researchers looked at the records of 2,485 patients who had been diagnosed with stomach cancer at the NCC.

They looked at how much time lapsed between the screening that detected the cancer and the screening immediately before the diagnosis. Individuals in the study were grouped based on these intervals.

Researchers found that the stages of cancer were similar in those who were screened between one and three years.

The stomach cancer diagnosed was significantly more advanced in individuals who had not been screened for four or more years.

"The optimal screening strategy appears to be every three years. Gastric cancers are likely to become more advanced before detection with screening intervals that are longer than three years, but screening more frequently than every three years does not appear to be more beneficial," said Dr. Choi.

The exception to this, is anyone who has a family history of stomach cancer. These individuals should be screened every year, according to Dr. Choi.

This research was published in July in Cancer, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

The National Cancer Center, Korea funded this research. No conflicts of interest were declared.

Review Date: 
July 31, 2012