Background: Gastric cancer can present with the endoscopic appearances of a benign gastric ulcer (GU). Opinion remains divided on the need for follow-up of patients diagnosed with GU, and the aim of this study was to examine the long-term outcomes of patients whose GU proved malignant on follow-up gastroscopy.
Methods: Between October 1, 1995, and September 30, 2003, 25,579 gastroscopies were performed in one unit. These identified 544 patients with apparently benign GU, of whom 277 (51%) underwent 334 elective follow-up endoscopies. Twelve of these patients (4.3%) were shown to have a malignant ulcer; their outcomes were compared to those of the 296 other patients diagnosed with gastric cancers in this time frame.
Results: The patients in the GU cancer group had earlier stage disease (stage I, 33% vs 6.4%; chi2 = 11.2; DF1; P = 0.001), and were more likely to undergo R0 gastrectomy (50% vs 30%; chi2 = 2.064; DF1; P = 0.151) and to survive long term (46% vs 16%; log-rank chi2, 5.79; DF1; P = 0.0162) than patients in the comparison cohort.
Conclusion: Gastroscopic follow-up of 50 patients with an apparently benign GU will identify 1 patient with a malignancy destined to survive for 5 years following R0 gastrectomy. This justifies the diagnostic effort of repeat gastroscopy to ensure complete healing of GU.