|Intestinal metaplasia (IM) and glandular atrophy (GA) have been identified as preneoplastic conditions in patients infected with Helicobacter pylori. The role of H. pylori eradication in improving these conditions after subtotal gastrectomy for gastric cancer is unclear.
To investigate this issue, researchers in Korea randomized 190 patients with gastric cancer and H. pylori infection to receive 7 days of proton-pump inhibitor–based triple therapy or placebo prior to surgery. The greater and lesser gastric curvatures were biopsied prior to surgery and at 12 and 36 months after surgery and evaluated according to the updated Sydney criteria. H. pylori infection was determined by both a rapid urease test and histologic examination of endoscopic biopsies. Histological findings of GA and IM were scored to indicate presence and severity (absent, 0; mild, 1; moderate, 2; severe, 3).
At 36 months, 75% of patients in the treatment group were free of H. pylori compared with 41% of the placebo group. The mean GA and IM scores did not differ between the two groups. However, compared with H. pylori-infected patients, those without H. pylori had less atrophy (P=0.005) and IM (P=0.03).
The lack of difference in glandular atrophy or intestinal metaplasia between study groups at 36 months might be explained by a type II error. Histological scores for both were lower in the treatment group, but these differences did not reach statistical significance, possibly because of the low eradication rate in the treatment group, the high spontaneous remission rate in the placebo group, or the relatively large number of patients lost before the final analysis. As the authors concluded, the findings suggest that successful H. pylori eradication might reduce the preneoplastic changes in the gastric remnant after gastric surgery, but the clinical significance of the histologic changes remains to be determined.