Gastric cancer screening using the serum pepsinogen test method

Gastric Cancer. 2006;9(4):245-53. doi: 10.1007/s10120-006-0397-0. Epub 2006 Nov 24.


The current status of gastric cancer screening, worldwide, as well as in Japan, using the serum pepsinogen test method, was reviewed. We performed a metaanalysis of sensitivity and specificity results from 42 individual studies (27 population-based screening studies: n = 296 553 and 15 selected groups: n = 4 385). Pooled pairs of sensitivity and false-positive rates (FPr) for pepsinogen I level < or = 70 ng/ml; pepsinogen I/II ratio < or = 3, had a sensitivity of 77%/FPr27%. The positive predictive value varied between 0.77% and 1.25%, and the negative predictive value varied between 99.08% and 99.90%. Therefore, we concluded that the definition of the pepsinogen test should include the pepsinogen I/II ratio, as consistency was obtained for both the population-based studies and the selected groups for those studies that used pepsinogen I serum levels together with the pepsinogen I/II ratio for screening for gastric cancer in high-incidence regions other than Japan. Individuals testing positive for extensive atrophic gastritis by serum pepsinogen levels undergo endoscopic examination to test for the presence of gastric cancer. We should increase the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the gastric cancer screening system, by the identification of groups, at low-risk, as well as those at high-risk, of developing gastric cancer, using a combination of assays of serum Helicobacter pylori antibody titers and the concentration of pepsinogen I and II. In conclusion, the pepsinogen test method can be used as a screening test for high-risk subjects, rather than as a tool for screening for cancer itself. I hope that this pepsinogen test method will become a world standard for gastric cancer prevention in the near future, in other countries, as well as in Japan.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • False Positive Reactions
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Pepsinogen A / blood*
  • Pepsinogen C / blood*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stomach Neoplasms / blood
  • Stomach Neoplasms / diagnosis*


  • Pepsinogen C
  • Pepsinogen A