BACKGROUND: The test and treat strategy for Helicobacter pylori infection has raised some concern since young gastric cancer patients may have no alarm symptoms. In this study the frequency of alarm symptoms was assessed in a series of young gastric cancer patients, as well as the impact of absence of alarm symptoms on delay in diagnosis and stage of gastric cancer at diagnosis and survival. METHODS: A retrospective study was carried out on 92 gastric cancer patients < or = 45 years of age identified from databases in four hospitals between January 1985 and December 2001. Characteristics analysed included duration and features of dyspeptic symptoms, presence of alarm symptoms, time interval from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis, pTNM stage and survival. RESULTS: Of the 92 patients, 54 (58.7%) presented uncomplicated dyspepsia and 38 (41.3%) alarm symptoms. In those with uncomplicated dyspepsia, epigastric pain was the most common complaint (64.1%) followed by vomiting (30.4%), heartburn and nausea. Weight loss was the most common alarm symptom (30.4%), followed by anorexia (10.9%), dysphagia or anaemia (7.6%). The mean delay from first symptoms to final diagnosis was 16.8 +/- 13.9 weeks in patients with alarm symptoms and 29.3 +/- 39.9 weeks in patients without alarm symptoms (P:ns). Patients without alarm symptoms showed significantly less aggressive gastric cancer compared to patients with alarm symptoms in relation to TNM stage and survival (cumulative 5-year survival rate: 76% versus 49% P: 0.01). The survival rate, at 5 years, of patients without alarm symptoms, and with a history of dyspepsia of more than 24 weeks, was higher than that in patients with early diagnosis (93.4% versus 66.5%: P: 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: A large proportion of young gastric cancer patients present without alarm symptoms. Despite the delay in diagnosis, these patients have a better outcome than those with alarm symptoms. Thus the delay in diagnosis of patients without alarm symptoms does not affect survival.
|Titolo:||Gastric cancer in young patients with no alarm symptoms: focus on delay in diagnosis, stage of neoplasm and survival|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|