A layer of cells that resemble the normal gastric lining on top of stomach cancer can make detection difficult after removal by an infection of Helicobacter pylori. Now, researchers from the University of Hiroshima (Japan) have discovered the origin of this layer of cells: it is produced by the cancerous tissue itself.
To survive in a hostile environment, H. pylori can neutralize stomach acid. This bacterium is the main cause of stomach cancer, one of the most common types of cancer that can have a low survival rate. The bacterium injects a substance similar to a toxin in the mucosal cells that line the stomach, causing inflammation. This destruction and regeneration of the cells can lead to the development of stomach cancer.
In this study, published in the journal Journal of Gastroenterology, Researchers have found the origins of a cell layer that was present in areas of stomach cancer after treatment for H. pylori. This layer, called ELA (epithelium with low-grade atypia), resembled normal mucous cells that line the stomach and acted as a 'mask' to hide stomach cancer. Until now, researchers were not sure where this layer came from.
“It was very interesting scientifically to find that cancer is repeated even after eradicating the causative bacteria. The eradication of H. pylori affects the regeneration of the gastric mucosa. After eradication there are many reddish depressions in the stomach, most of them are not cancer. It is difficult to identify the mucosa of ALS between the normal mucosa, “explains the main responsible for the work, Kazuaki Chayama.
The research group conducted a preliminary study in 10 patients after gastric interventions and looked for this layer of cells. The DNA of the ELA cells was studied intensively and found to be identical to the cancer cells of the stomach. It was concluded that ALS comes from the cancer's own stomach tissue.
These findings could mean that even after getting rid of 'H. pylori 'there is still a risk of stomach cancer for some patients. Stomach cancer can be difficult to detect because of its location and the fact that the disease can progress slowly. This is not helped by the ALS masking the cancer after the removal of the causative factor.