Objectives: Some gastric cancers are missed during diagnostic gastroscopy, but data are sparse on the clinical characteristics of patients with missed gastric cancers and on the accuracy of gastroscopy for detecting these tumours. We evaluated the number, clinicopathological characteristics, and survival of patients with missed gastric cancers, and the sensitivity and specificity of gastroscopy to detect these tumours.
Methods: Data on gastric cancers detected in 1996-2001 in a single hospital referral area were obtained from the National Cancer Registry. Patient files were examined to identify those who underwent gastroscopy less than 3.5 years before a cancer diagnosis.
Results: Of the 284 gastric cancer patients, 13 (4.6%) had undergone gastroscopy in the previous 3.5 years; their mean age was 72.4 years at the time of the first gastroscopy. The median delay in cancer diagnosis was 11.5 months. Histologically, all patients had gastric carcinoma. The sensitivity and specificity of gastroscopy for diagnosing gastric cancer were 0.93 and 1.00, respectively. Among the deceased patients, no difference was observed in the survival of cases with non-missed (n = 191) and missed (n = 10) carcinoma: 9.4 versus 7.3 months (P = 0.15).
Conclusion: A small proportion of gastric carcinomas are missed on gastroscopy, causing a significant delay in diagnosis. However, the prognoses of patients with missed and non-missed gastric carcinoma were equally poor.