(HealthDay News) — There is a significant benefit in the cancer stage at diagnosis for patients who undergo endoscopy screening, with similar benefits seen for intervals of one, two, and three years, according to a study published online July 16 in Cancer.

Ji Hyung Nam, M.D., from the National Cancer Center in Goyang, South Korea, and colleagues examined the association between the interval between upper gastrointestinal endoscopies and the gastric cancer stage at diagnosis in 2,485 patients from a geographical region of high prevalence. Patients were stratified based on the interval between the endoscopy diagnosing gastric cancer and the endoscopy preceding it.

The researchers found that an increase in interval length correlated with a 23 percent increase in the risk of higher cancer stage at diagnosis. The odds ratio of having a higher stage of cancer decreased gradually, from 0.53 in the more-than-five-year interval group to 0.31 in the one-year interval group, compared to those never screened. Compared with the one-year interval group, there was no increase in the risk of advanced gastric cancer in the two- and three-year groups, but the risk was increased in the four- and five-year groups. For patients with a family history, those in the three-year interval group, compared with the one-year interval group, had an increased risk of higher stage at diagnosis.

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“A significant benefit in cancer stage at diagnosis was observed in all interval groups compared to never-screened,” the authors write. “Endoscopy intervals of three years or less showed similar benefits, but family members of gastric cancer patients may benefit from intervals of under three years.”

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