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Every 3 Years Is Best for Stomach Cancer Tests: Study

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Three years is the optimal interval between stomach cancer screenings, according to a new Korean study.

The recommendation could help reduce deaths from stomach cancer, which is the second most common cause of cancer death. Although stomach cancer rates in the Western world have decreased substantially, the disease is still common in areas of Eastern Asia, including China, Korea and Japan.

Early detection and treatment of stomach cancer can save lives. Screening may be done with upper endoscopy, which looks at the upper digestive system using a tiny camera at the end of a long, flexible tube.

Researchers at the National Cancer Center in South Korea looked at more than 2,400 patients who had been diagnosed with stomach cancer and divided them into groups based on their screening history.

The researchers found that patients who were screened at one- and three-year intervals had similar stages of gastric cancer at diagnosis. But those who were screened every four years or more had a much higher stage of cancer at diagnosis.

The study was published online July 16 in the journal Cancer.

"The optimal screening strategy appears to be every three years," study author Dr. Il Ju Choi said in a journal news release. "Gastric cancers are likely to become more advanced before detection with screening intervals longer than three years, but screening more frequently than every three years does not appear to be more beneficial."

"The exception is if you have a family member with gastric cancer," he added. "In that case, you may need to undergo upper endoscopy screening more frequently than every three years."

The study found that people with a family history of stomach cancer were more likely to have more advanced cancer at diagnosis if they were screened every three years instead of every year.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about stomach cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, July 16, 2012

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