Background: Gastric cancer remains one of the most common cancers worldwide. A strong association exists between Helicobacter pylori infection and the risk of developing noncardia gastric cancer. H. pylori eradication by antibiotic treatment is regarded as a primary chemoprevention strategy to reduce gastric cancer incidence.
Aim: To analyze the efficacy of H. pylori eradication in preventing gastric cancer in human and animal models, and to discuss whether biochemical, genetic, and epigenetic changes associated with H. pylori infection are reversible after curing the infection.
Results: Several intervention trials have indicated that in some patients, H. pylori eradication leads to regression and prevents the progression of precancerous lesions. The eradication therapy reduces gastric cancer incidence in patients without any precancerous lesions at the baseline and is most effective before the development of atrophic gastritis. A few recent intervention studies in Japan have demonstrated significant prophylactic effects of eradication therapy on the development of gastric cancer, suggesting the use of eradication therapy in high-risk populations as a gastric cancer reduction strategy. However, gastric cancer may still develop despite successful eradication therapy. Studies in animal models have confirmed the use of eradication therapy at an early point of infection to prevent gastric cancer development.
Conclusion: H. pylori eradication may not completely abolish the risk of gastric cancer. However, eradication therapy may be used in high-risk populations to reduce gastric cancer incidence. It can reverse many biochemical, genetic, and epigenetic changes that H. pylori infection induces in the stomach.