Screening & Detection

Patients from HDGC families should be followed by physicians, genetic counselors, gastroenterologists, surgeons, pathologists, oncologists, dieticians, and other health professionals. Upper endoscopy with random gastric biopsies (small samples of tissue) is currently the best method to screen for stomach cancer. Unfortunately, diffuse gastric cancer often is not apparent on endoscopy, and biopsies are often negative.

The current screening recommendations are upper endoscopy with biopsies on an annual basis. If possible, biopsies should be reviewed by pathologists who are knowledgeable about hereditary diffuse gastric cancer. Because hereditary diffuse gastric cancer is nearly impossible to detect at an early stage, however, the recommended procedure to prevent stomach cancer is total gastrectomy or complete removal of the stomach. Although this procedure is complicated and commonly leads to weight loss, diarrhea, altered eating habits, and vitamin deficiency, it is possibly the only method to prevent stomach cancer in these families.

Resources for Understanding Screening and Surveillance