Background: Helicobacter pylori infection is the most important risk factor for gastric atrophy and intestinal metaplasia, both considered gastric cancer precursor lesions. Therefore, the investigation of the occurrence of H. pylori infection, precursor lesions and associated factors guides the adoption of specific strategies for the control this type of cancer.
Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of H. pylori infection in patients undergoing upper digestive endoscopy, as well as the prevalence of intestinal metaplasia, atrophy and chronic inflammation and their association with H. pylori infection.
Methods: A retrospective study was performed based on reports of gastric endoscopic biopsies performed in a private laboratory affiliated to the Brazilian Public Health System (SUS). Patients were evaluated for age, gender and type of health service. The samples were evaluated for the presence of H. pylori, and also of chronic inflammation, intestinal metaplasia and glandular atrophy.
Results: Of a total of 4,604 patients (mean age 51±16.6), 63.9% were female and 63.1% coming from private health care service. The prevalence of H. pylori infection was 31.7% (n=1,459), and the percentage of infection was significantly higher in patients from public health service (42.0%) in relation to patients from private health service (25.6%). Among H. pylori (+) patients, a higher percentage of intestinal metaplasia (17.7% vs 13.3%) and glandular atrophy (17.6% vs 6.9%) were observed when compared to those H. pylori (-) (P<0.01). From the patients H. pylori (+) with at least one type of precursor lesion (n=418), 161 (38.5%) had metaplasia and chronic inflammation, 160 (38.3%) had atrophy and chronic inflammation and finally 97 (23.2%) presented metaplasia, atrophy and chronic inflammation simultaneously.
Conclusion: The present study reinforces the association of H. pylori infection with gastric cancer precursor lesions in a Brazilian population, emphasizing the importance of infection prevention measures, as well as the treatment of infected patients, especially in regions with lower socioeconomic levels that show a higher prevalence of infection by H. pylori.