Purpose: In order to determine whether infection with Helicobacter pylori might be associated with pancreatic adenocarcinoma, we performed a study to compare the H. pylori seroprevalence rate between patients with pancreatic carcinoma and matched control subjects.
Patients and methods: Blood samples from 92 patients with histologically confirmed diagnosis of pancreatic adenocarcinoma admitted to our hospital between January 1994 and July 1995 were analyzed for the presence of IgG antibodies against H. pylori by a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Thirty patients with gastric cancer, 35 patients with colorectal cancer, and 27 healthy volunteers served as controls. In addition to these serological analyses, tumor specimens from 20 patients with pancreatic adenocarcinoma were microscopically investigated for the presence of H. pylori.
Results: 65% of pancreatic cancer patients and 69% of those with gastric cancer were found to be seropositive, while only 45% of the other controls tested positive. Statistical analysis revealed no difference in seropositivity between the cohort of patients suffering from pancreatic and gastric cancer. The rate of seropositivity was more prominent, however, in pancreatic cancer patients when compared with those suffering from colorectal cancer combined with normal controls (p = 0.035), with an odds ratio of 2.1 (1.1-4.1). Microscopic evaluation of human pancreatic cancer specimens showed no evidence for the presence of H. pylori.
Conclusion: Our data suggest an association between H. pylori infection and pancreatic cancer. Despite demonstration of a positive relationship and its physiological plausibility, larger prospective studies are needed to confirm our preliminary findings and to assess H. pylori as a potential carcinogenic risk factor.