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Gastric cancer.
  1. P. McCulloch
  1. Department of Surgery, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, UK.


    We are gaining a clearer insight into the causes and mechanisms of gastric carcinogenesis, and may be able to reduce the incidence in the future by Helicobacter pylori eradication, perhaps in conjunction with nutritional supplements. The work required to establish this kind of prevention programme still has a long way to go. Surveillance and early detection are a key area, and current hopes rest with an increasingly low threshold for gastroscopy together with improved awareness in both patients and general practitioners. Identification of a high-risk group for surveillance would be a major advance, and may become possible due to advances in molecular biology. In terms of treatment, surgery remains the mainstay, but for useful analysis of its' efficacy, uniform and detailed pathological staging is vital. Pre-operative assessment has improved greatly in recent years, resulting in fewer nontherapeutic laparotomies, thanks to a combination of improved imaging techniques and laparoscopy. Limited endoscopic surgery is now feasible for very early disease. The extent of radical surgery remains controversial: a strong argument can be made for concentrating this kind of surgery in the hands of a limited number of specialist units who will have the numbers and the expertise to answer the outstanding questions. Chemotherapy has yet to prove its value, but there are hopes that the newest regimes may do this. Treatment results in the West remain unsatisfactory, but they have improved in the last two decades, and should be capable of considerable further improvement.

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