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 isScreening 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.