Decorative image

Screening

Find out what screening is and the tests people at high risk of stomach cancer can have.

There is no national screening programme because:
  • this condition is very rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

What screening is

Screening means testing people for early stages of an illness before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:
  • must be reliable at picking up the illness
  • must be simple and quick
  • shouldn’t show that someone has the illness when they don’t (false positive results)
  • must not cause any harm

Not all screening tests are helpful and they can have risks.

What to do if you think you’re at risk

Talk to your GP if you think you’re at higher risk of stomach cancer.

Screening in the UK

The number of people getting stomach cancer has gone down over the past 10 years. 

There are a number of rare conditions that increase your risk of getting stomach cancer, including a condition called hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. People with this condition may have screening using a long flexible tube called an endoscope. This means that the doctor can look inside their stomach.

Apart from this condition, doctors are not sure who would benefit from screening in the UK. Research has looked at screening people with indigestion but results showed it wasn’t useful. So, we need more research to find out who should have screening and how.

There is screening in some parts of Asia and in Eastern Europe, where stomach cancer is much more common. They screen using endoscopy and are researching other ways of screening.

Last reviewed: 
05 Jul 2016
  • Incidence Statistics from Cancer Research UK (CancerStats)

  • Introduction to the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Cancer (4th Edition)
    Knowles and Selby
    Oxford University Press, 2006. 

  • Gastric cancer: ESMO–ESSO–ESTRO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up.
    Waddell and others.
    Annals of Oncology, 2013. Vol 24, Supplement 6.

  • The diagnosis and management of gastric cancer
    Thrumurthy and others
    British Medical Journal, 2013. Vol 347, f6367.

Information and help

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.​