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Gastric intestinal metaplasia: subtypes and natural history


Background—It has been suggested that the subtyping of intestinal metaplasia in the stomach is useful in stratifying patients with regard to risk of developing gastric cancer.

Aim—To determine whether subtyping intestinal metaplasia provided useful information regarding the natural history of intestinal metaplasia.

Methods—The study used large cup gastric biopsy specimens from predetermined locations (gastric mapping). Follow up biopsies were obtained at one, two, and/or nine years. Biopsies with intestinal metaplasia were stained with high iron diamine/Alcian blue (HID/AB) to determine whether they expressed neutral mucins, sialomucins, or sulphomucins.

Results—Seventy nine patients with intestinal metaplasia were studied and characterised with regard to the most advanced subtype of intestinal metaplasia. The most severe type of intestinal metaplasia was type II in 33 patients and type III in 34 patients. Helicobacter pylori was cured in 67 patients. Follow up showed that changes in type of metaplasia (apparent regression or progression) occurred in both directions and were independent of H pylori status. For example, biopsy sites with “loss” of metaplasia at a follow up visit might have it “reappear” at a subsequent visit. During follow up, no patient developed gastric dysplasia or died from gastric cancer.

Conclusion—HID subtyping did not provide useful information to the clinician or the pathologist. The data are consistent with the notion that the pattern, extent, and severity of atrophy with/without intestinal metaplasia is a far more important predictor of increased cancer risk than intestinal metaplasia subtype.

  • Helicobacter pylori
  • intestinal metaplasia
  • high iron diamine
  • gastric cancer

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