Background: This endoscopic follow-up study was undertaken to evaluate the risk of gastric cancer (GC) and carcinoids in patients with pernicious anaemia (PA) and to analyse whether early detection of GC could be provided by regular endoscopic follow-up.
Methods: Screening gastroscopy was performed in 71 patients with pernicious anaemia, and thereafter they were followed up with gastroscopies at 3-year intervals for a mean time of 5.8 years. Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) were calculated, the expected number being based on incidence rates in the whole Finnish population.
Results: Two GCs were found during the follow-up period; one of these patients was asymptomatic and the other had abdominal symptoms. The SIR was 5.0 (95% confidence interval, 0.6-18). Eight carcinoids were detected, and all but one were removed endoscopically, and no metastases were found. The patients who had carcinoid tumours were younger at the diagnosis of PA than those who did not develop carcinoids (mean, 40 versus 55 years). Additionally, the patients with carcinoids had longer duration of PA (mean, 11 versus 5 years).
Conclusions: During the follow-up period the risk of GC was increased. The risk of gastric carcinoids seems to be very high in patients with pernicious anaemia when compared with a normal population, but they are mostly relatively benign tumours. Regular routine gastroscopic follow-up is not indicated in patients with pernicious anaemia.