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Diseases & Conditions

Heliocobactor Pylori and Stomach Cancer

(Also Called 'Heliocobactor Pylori Infection')

Infection with a bacteria called Helicobacter pylori ( H. pylori ) is now recognized as a primary cause of peptic ulcers and their recurrence. Now evidence has been found linking H. pylori infection as a risk factor for stomach cancer. In an article in the American Journal of Medicine , the authors reviewed information that links the changes caused by H. pylori infection in the stomach lining as a strong risk factor for stomach cancer. When an H. pylori infection is identified, it can be treated with antibiotics. The authors suggest testing for H. pylori as a way to decrease the incidence of stomach cancer. A blood test to check for H. pylori antibodies is available and can be easily done. The authors recommend that people who have a family history of stomach cancer or other cancer risk factors be screened for H. pylori infection with this blood test.

Cleveland Clinic commentary

A dramatic decline has occurred in the past 60 years in the number of stomach (also called gastric) cancer cases. There has been a fourfold decrease in the incidence of stomach cancer, but it is still the seventh-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Several reasons may have led to this drop in stomach cancer rates, such as improved detection and treatment, as well as improved dietary habits, such as eating more fruits, vegetables, and fiber. Many studies show that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers the risk for many cancers. But if stomach cancer is not caught early before it has spread, the prognosis is poor and the disease may be fatal.

Various medical conditions can be associated with an increased risk of developing stomach cancer, including pernicious anemia and gastric ulcer. A person's risk of developing stomach cancer is also greater if he or she has been infected with H. pylori bacteria. H. pylori is a bacteria that can infect the lining of the stomach, and result in symptoms such as stomach pain, food intolerances from chronic inflammation, and occasionally bleeding from a gastric ulcer.However, the H. pylori infection often does not cause any symptoms. H. pylori infection is treated with a combination of antibiotics and acid-reducing medication. The H. pylori infection is usually eradicated, but all prescribed doses of antibiotics must be taken.

Your doctor will determine if you need to be screened for H. pylori infection. If you have a strong family history of stomach cancer as well as other cancer risk factors, even though you don't have symptoms of a stomach ulcer, your doctor may recommend being tested for H. pylori antibodies. In addition to screening, your doctor may suggest some lifestyle changes, such as including more fruits, vegetables, and fiber in your diet. Regular checkups with your doctor and following his or her recommendations can reduce your cancer risk.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 3/19/2012...#8107

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