What Role Does Helicobacter pylori Play in Gastric Cancer?
M Asaka，H Takeda，T Sugiyama，M Kato
Several lines of evidence support an association between Helicobacter pylori infection and gastric cancer. The natural history of H. pylori-associated gastritis is inexorable progression ultimately leading to gastric atrophy.
In general, this process requires between 20 and 40 years to complete. Atrophic gastritis is widely considered to be a precursor lesion of the intestinal type of gastric cancer. Moreover, areas with a high prevalence of H. pylori infection also have a high prevalence of gastric cancer.
Strong evidence from three prospective studies shows the risk of gastric cancer to be increased fourfold in H. pylori-positive persons. Several retrospective studies have also confirmed that H. pylori infection is associated with development of gastric cancer, especially in the younger generation, early gastric cancer, and noncardiac gastric cancer.
H. pylori alone is not likely responsible for gastric cancer. Rather, it may provide a suitable environment, including chronic gastritis and intestinal metaplasia, for neoplastic change. Recognition of an association between H. pylori infection and gastric cancer has led to a major shift in emphasis on the cause of the disease.
Research into H. pylori has focused attention on the importance of chronic inflammation and impaired host defense mechanisms as factors in the development of gastric cancer. H. pylori infection leads to changes in many factors that are important to the pathogenesis of gastric cancer, including vitamin C content of gastric juice, reactive oxygen metabolites, and epithelial cell proliferation.
Eradication of the organism may reverse these changes. Therefore, eradication of H. pylori in infected persons might be a route to preventing gastric cancer, although many questions still remain as to the effectiveness of this strategy.
《Gastroenterology》, 1997, 113(6 Suppl):56-60