Background: It has recently been recognized that gastritis, gastric ulcer, duodenal ulcer, gastric carcinoma, and primary gastric B-cell lymphoma are all associated with gastroduodenal infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Ten percent of Americans develop a peptic ulcer: one in six of those is infected. Four to five million Americans have peptic ulcer disease and ulcer disease is responsible for $43 to $44 billion in annual health care costs.
Methods: We review the accumulated data showing that successful treatment of H. pylori infection results in healing of gastritis and cure of peptic ulcer disease. Current data suggest that by elimination of H. pylori infection it may be possible to prevent most gastric carcinomas and primary gastric lymphomas.
Conclusions: H. pylori infection is currently considered primarily as a cause of peptic ulcer. H. pylori infection is a major public health problem and elimination or prevention of the H. pylori infection will result in a tremendous reduction in medical costs, morbidity, and mortality.