If diagnosis is step one in cancer care, screening is step zero.
Early detection enables early and effective treatment, helping to save and improve lives.
The term ‘screening’ means looking for cancer before any symptoms appear. The reason for doing so is that the cancer is often easier to treat at this early stage. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have advanced and begun to spread.
Countries with high incidence rates of gastric cancer, like Japan and South Korea, have implemented national screening programs to enable earlier diagnosis, achieving excellent results with more than 50% diagnosis at early stages.
Without a gastric-cancer-screening program, individuals tend to only seek medical attention when they are symptomatic and often when these symptoms are severe, by which time the cancer is usually in its advanced stages.
Procedures like gastroscopy, biopsy, and barium-meal X-ray can accurately diagnose gastric cancer, but they are invasive or expose potentially healthy people to radiation, which increases the risk of other cancers.
Cancer-associated changes in blood levels, or in the characteristics of biological molecules such as protein, DNA, RNA (including microRNA), and metabolites, can be used as biomarkers to make cancer screening more accurate, less invasive, and more cost effective.
There are no standard or routine tests for gastric cancer screening in most countries. Korea and Japan recommend the use of gastroscopy or barium-meal X-ray for gastric cancer screening, while other blood biomarkers are being tested in clinical trials.
Blood biomarkers that have been assessed for gastric cancer detection include Helicobacter pylori (HP) serology, serum pepsinogen, and other tumor markers such as CEA and CA19-9. However, none of these are sensitive enough or specific enough to be used for gastric cancer screening.
GASTROClear is the world’’s first molecular blood test for early detection of gastric cancer. It is cheaper and less invasive than gastroscopy and can be used to assess the risk of healthy people who have not experienced any symptoms. Those found to be at high risk of gastric cancer using GASTROClear should then undergo gastroscopy for a more detailed examination.
GASTROClear has an accuracy of 87%, more accurate than any other blood biomarkers assessed for detection of gastric cancer, including HP serology, serum pepsinogen, the ABC method, and tumor markers such as CEA and CA19-9.
Gastric cancer usually shows no signs or symptoms in the early stages. Knowing and proactively managing your risk through regular screening is the key to early detection.
Early diagnosis coupled with timely life-saving treatment can lead to good outcomes for patients with gastric cancer.