Published: 2014-10-01 17:00:00 CEST
Biohit Oyj
Press release

WHO prompts Helicobacter pylori screening to prevent gastric cancer

Biohit Oyj Press Release October 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm local time (EEST)

According to a recent report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)( JAMA. 2014;312(12):1197-1198. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.10498), which is  the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, evaluating the possibility of large population-based programs of Helicobacter pylori (HP)-screening and treatment should be a global priority to reduce the burden of gastric cancer.

Gastric cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide, and 80% of the 1 million new cases annually are caused by a treatable infection, according to the report. However, despite these alarming figures, practically no country has a public health program to prevent gastric cancer.

HP-infection leading to gastric mucosal atrophy (atrophic gastritis, AG) is the leading risk factor of gastric cancer. HP is a bacteria infecting the gastric mucosa, and the infection is curable by adequate treatment with a combination of antibiotics.  According to the IARC report, H pylori treatment lowers gastric cancer incidence by 30% to 40%, although the results are likely not generalizable across all populations.

In Finland, gastric cancer incidence has constantly decreased since the 1950’s, when gastric cancer was the leading cause of cancer morbidity and mortality. This decrease coincides with the similar trend in the prevalence of HP-infection in this country. Still, gastric cancer in Finland has not disappeared, but every year more than 700 new cases are detected. Due to the fact that gastric cancer remains asymptomatic for a long time, the majority of the cases are diagnosed at a late stage, which makes the overall prognosis of gastric cancer very ominous.   

According to IARC, there is an urgent need to commit more public health resources to gastric cancer control worldwide. The working group which drafted this report recommends that all countries consider including gastric cancer in their national cancer control programs.  

CEO Semi Korpela, Biohit Oyj:  “To be effective, gastric cancer screening should be organized, and targeted to detection of the subjects at high risk for developing the disease. An optimal screening test should be non-invasive and capable of detecting both HP-infection and AG. Currently, only one such tests exists on the market; the GastroPanel test developed by Biohit Oyj. Based on the combined use of 4 stomach-specific biomarkers, GastroPanel test detects HP-infection and AG with high accuracy (Appendix below). Biohit also has a specific quick test for HP-infection (Helicobacter pylori Quick Test). Gastro Panel test is currently available in many countries worldwide. Its main indications are the use in the first-line diagnosis of all dyspeptic patients, and in the primary screening of the risk groups for gastric cancer. “

Chief Medical Director, Professor Kari Syrjänen, MD, Ph.D., Biohit Oyj: ”World wide healthcare practice should be encouraged by this WHO recommendation to give a high priority for gastric cancer screening on global scale. If successfully implemented particularly in the high-risk countries, we can expect seeing a notable impact on the currently ominous gastric cancer burden after several years. “



Additional information:

CEO Semi Korpela, Biohit Oyj
tel. +358 9 773 861


Biohit in brief

Biohit Oyj is a globally operating Finnish biotechnology company. Biohit’s mission is “Innovating for Health” – we produce innovative products and services to promote research and early diagnosis. Biohit is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, and has subsidiaries in Italy and the UK. Biohit's Series B share (BIOBV) is quoted on NASDAQ OMX Helsinki in the Small cap/Healthcare group.