BACKGROUND It has been suggested that endoscopy could be replaced with non-invasive assessment of helicobacter status in the initial work up of young dyspeptic patients without sinister symptoms.
AIMS To determine the incidence of gastro-oesophageal malignancy in young dyspeptic patients.
METHODS The Alberta Endoscopy Project captured clinical and demographic data on all endoscopies performed from April 1993 to February 1996 at four major adult hospitals in Alberta. The endoscopic and histological diagnosis in a subgroup of patients under 45 years of age without alarm symptoms that had undergone gastroscopy was reviewed. In addition, a random list of 200 patients was generated and their medical records reviewed in order to assess the proportion with symptoms suitable for a non-invasive management strategy.
RESULTS Gastroscopy was performed in 7004 patients under 45 years. In 3634 patients (56% female) alarm type symptoms were absent; 78.9% of patients had symptoms amenable to a non-invasive initial approach, giving a corrected sample size of 2867 patients (correction factor 0.789). Three gastric cancers, one case of moderate dysplasia, 10 biopsy proved cases of Barrett's oesophagus, and 19 oesophageal strictures/rings were detected within this sample. The corrected prevalence of gastric cancer in this select population was 1.05 per thousand patients.
DISCUSSION Endoscopy yielded three gastric cancers in this sample of under 45 year old dyspeptic patients without sinister symptoms. While initial non-invasive screening with one-week triple therapy for helicobacter positive individuals is unlikely to have a detrimental outcome the physician is advised to consider endoscopy in patients with persisting, recurrent, or sinister symptoms.
- Helicobacter pylori
- gastric cancer
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- Abbreviations used in this paper:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug
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