Although regular endoscopic screening may help in early detection of gastric cancer, interval cancer remains a problem in the screening program. This study evaluated the association between regular endoscopic screening and interval cancer detection in the Korean National Cancer Screening Program (KNCSP). We defined three groups (regularly, irregularly, and not screened) according to the screening interval, and the trends in the interval cancer rate (ICR) between the groups were tested using the Cochran-Armitage test. The influence of regular endoscopic screening on the risk of interval cancer was evaluated using multivariable logistic regression. Among the 11,642,410 participants who underwent endoscopy, the overall ICR was 0.36 per 1000 negative screenings. The ICR of the not screened group (0.41) was the highest among the three groups and the risk of interval cancer in this group was 1.68 times higher (p < 0.001) than that in the regularly screened group. Women in their 40s who had regular screening with no history of intestinal metaplasia and gastric polyps would have the lowest probability of having interval cancer (0.005%). Regular participation in endoscopic screening programs for reducing the risk of interval cancer may help to improve the quality of screening programs.
Keywords: endoscopy; gastric cancer; interval cancer; national cancer screening program; screening.