Scientists have detected a link between the ulcer causing Helicobacter pylori (HP) bug and gastric cancer but it’s something that doctors aren’t telling their patients about.

HP has been classified as a class I carcinogen by the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research in Cancer.

But in a recent poll of 140 GPs practising in the north west of England, just 12 per cent revealed that they had discussed the possible link with HP patients.

The questioners wonder if the reason for the low figures is simply because the GPs themselves are un aware of an association. As only two thirds seem to realize that HP was a cause of ulcers despite massive publicity about the discovery this seems to be the most likely explanation.

Although a cancer link is suspected, it has never been proven by any clinical trial, and it could be that doctors do not want to worry their patients unduly.

But on this occasion, it is more probably a case not of “doctor knows best”, but simply “doctor doesn’t know” (Br J Gen Pract, 1997; 47: 311-2).

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Written by What Doctors Don't Tell You

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