Can Stomach Ulcers Cause Cancer?

Stomach ulcers themselves typically do not directly cause cancer. However, certain types of stomach ulcers, particularly those caused by infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, can increase the risk of developing stomach (gastric) cancer, especially if left untreated for an extended period.

H. pylori infection is a common cause of stomach ulcers. This bacterium can weaken the protective lining of the stomach, leading to the formation of ulcers. While the majority of individuals infected with H. pylori do not develop cancer, persistent infection with this bacterium over many years can cause chronic inflammation in the stomach lining, increasing the risk of precancerous changes (such as gastric atrophy or intestinal metaplasia) that might progress to stomach cancer over time.

It’s important to note that most stomach ulcers are benign and do not lead to cancer. However, if an ulcer caused by H. pylori infection remains untreated for a long time, or if there are other risk factors such as a family history of stomach cancer, smoking, a diet high in smoked or salty foods, or certain genetic factors, the risk of developing stomach cancer may be increased.

Early detection and treatment of stomach ulcers caused by H. pylori infection are crucial to prevent potential complications and reduce the risk of stomach cancer. Treating H. pylori infection with antibiotics and medications to reduce stomach acid can help heal the ulcers and lower the risk of future complications, including a potential decrease in the risk of stomach cancer.

Regular check-ups, especially for individuals with a history of stomach ulcers or other risk factors, can aid in the early detection and management of any concerning changes in the stomach lining that could potentially progress to cancer. Consulting a healthcare professional for appropriate screening and management is important for individuals with a history of stomach ulcers or those concerned about their risk of stomach cancer.