Can Stomach Cancer Be Found Early?

Screening is testing for a disease, such as cancer, in people without symptoms.

Some of the tests that can be used to screen for stomach cancer (also known as gastric cancer), such as upper endoscopy, are described in Tests for Stomach Cancer.

Stomach cancer screening in people at average risk 

No major medical organizations in the United States recommend routine screening for stomach cancer in people at average risk. This is largely because this disease isn’t common in the US, so the benefits of screening most likely would not outweigh the possible harms (such as needing additional tests or procedures, even in some people who might not end up having stomach cancer).

Because routine screening for stomach cancer is not done in the United States, most people are not diagnosed with stomach cancer until they have certain signs and symptoms that point to the need for medical tests.

In some countries in East Asia and South America, where stomach cancer is much more common, mass screening of the population has helped find many stomach cancers at an early, possibly more curable stage. However, it’s not clear if this has led to a lower number of stomach cancer deaths.

Stomach cancer screening in people at increased risk

The benefits of screening might outweigh the risks in some people who are at increased risk for stomach cancer because they have certain risk factors (for example, certain potentially pre-cancerous stomach conditions or inherited conditions such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis [FAP]). For example, upper endoscopy might be recommended at regular intervals in these people.

If you have risk factors that might increase your risk of stomach cancer, talk to your doctor about the possible pros and cons of stomach cancer screening for you.

Screening isn't usually recommended for people in families with hereditary diffuse gastric cancer (HDGC). Instead, doctors often recommend that people who have changes in the CDH1 gene that causes this syndrome consider having their stomach removed (total gastrectomy), because their risk of stomach cancer is very high.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Chan AO, Wong B. Gastric cancer screening. UpToDate. 2020. Accessed at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/gastric-cancer-screening on June 26, 2020.

National Cancer Institute. Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Screening (PDQ®). 2020. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach/hp/stomach-screening-pdq on June 24, 2020.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Gastric Cancer. v.2.2020. Accessed at www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/gastric.pdf on June 30, 2020.

References

Chan AO, Wong B. Gastric cancer screening. UpToDate. 2020. Accessed at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/gastric-cancer-screening on June 26, 2020.

National Cancer Institute. Stomach (Gastric) Cancer Screening (PDQ®). 2020. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/stomach/hp/stomach-screening-pdq on June 24, 2020.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Gastric Cancer. v.2.2020. Accessed at www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/gastric.pdf on June 30, 2020.

Last Revised: January 22, 2021

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