Gastric Intestinal Metaplasia: Real Culprit or Innocent Bystander as a Precancerous Condition for Gastric Cancer?

Gastroenterology. 2023 Dec;165(6):1352-1366.e1. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2023.08.028. Epub 2023 Aug 29.


Gastric intestinal metaplasia (GIM), which denotes conversion of gastric mucosa into an intestinal phenotype, can occur in all regions of the stomach, including cardiac, fundic, and pyloric mucosa. Since the earliest description of GIM, its association with gastric cancer of the differentiated (intestinal) type has been a well-recognized concern. Many epidemiologic studies have confirmed GIM to be significantly associated with subsequent gastric cancer development. Helicobacter pylori, the principal etiologic factor for gastric cancer, plays the most important role in predisposing to GIM. Although the role of GIM in the stepwise progression model of gastric carcinogenesis (the so-called "Correa cascade") has come into question recently, we review the scientific evidence that strongly supports this long-standing model and propose a new progression model that builds on the Correa cascade. Eradication of H pylori is the most important method for preventing gastric cancer globally, but the effect of eradication on established GIM, is limited, if any. Endoscopic surveillance for GIM may, therefore, be necessary, especially when there is extensive corpus GIM. Recent advances in image-enhanced endoscopy with integrated artificial intelligence have facilitated the identification of GIM and neoplastic lesions, which will impact preventive strategies in the near future.

Keywords: Autoimmune Gastritis; Endoscopic Diagnosis; Gastric Adenoma; Gastric Atrophy; Gastric Cancer; Gastric Dysplasia; Helicobacter pylori; Intestinal Metaplasia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology
  • Helicobacter Infections* / pathology
  • Helicobacter pylori*
  • Humans
  • Metaplasia / pathology
  • Precancerous Conditions* / pathology
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Stomach Neoplasms* / prevention & control