GastroPanel® – a cost-effective solution for the early diagnosis of gastric cancer risk
Updated: April 17, 2023
Laura Baker, Marketing Manager BIOHIT Ltd
The five-year survival rate for stomach cancer in England and Wales is just 21 %, a figure that is considerably lower than other countries in Europe. The key to improving survival rates is earlier diagnosis; when gastric cancer is detected at its earliest stage, therapeutic interventions tend to be more successful and prognosis is significantly better, with over 65 % of patients surviving longer than five years from initial diagnosis.1
Atrophic gastritis is a chronic condition of the stomach and a precursor of gastric cancer. It is typically only diagnosed via gastroscopy and gastric mucosal biopsy analysis, procedures which are invasive, costly and extremely resource consuming. Individuals presenting with any symptoms associated with stomach cancer are commonly put on the straight-to-endoscopy patient pathway by default, yet the diagnostic yield of significant pathology is low in this group of patients. Audits have shown that less than 10 % of referrals for gastroscopy via a two-week pathway result in a cancer diagnosis2, but the cost of ruling out cancer using GI cancer services are 74 % higher per patient than when using direct access endoscopy.3 This means that many gastroscopies are performed unnecessarily in lieu of an alternative diagnostic method, creating longer patient waiting times and adding yet more financial pressures onto already-strained health services.
GastroPanel is a blood test designed to establish gastric cancer risk in patients awaiting gastroscopy by detecting and quantifying the concentrations of three atrophic gastritis biomarkers: pepsinogen I, pepsinogen II, and gastrin-17, as well as H. pylori IgG. The easy-to-understand and detailed test output provides clinicians with a non-invasive diagnostic method of identifying atrophic gastritis, highlighting individuals who are at high risk of developing gastric cancer in the future. The test has been found to identify atrophic gastritis in 10 % of gastroscopy candidates, meaning that 90 % of patients no longer need to undergo this procedure as a priority. Eliminating unnecessary gastroscopy procedures would cut down significantly on waiting times, and allows the higher-risk individuals to undergo gastroscopy sooner, aiding the earlier detection of stomach cancer. On top of this, reducing the number of gastroscopies required by 90 % would help to alleviate the demand on precious NHS resources and greatly improve the personal treatment pathway of each patient.
According to a study carried out by Beg et al.,4 3,000 oesophagogastroduodenoscopies (OGDs) are performed for every 250,000 people annually. Using 2021 UK population figures (approximately 68M), BIOHIT conservatively estimated that of the 800,000 diagnostic OGDs performed each year, a quarter of them are carried out on the stomach, totalling around 200,000 procedures each year. With this in mind, at a cost of £456 per gastroscopy5, the NHS may be spending over £91M on stomach gastroscopies a year. In contrast, GastroPanel costs just £30 per test and so, by reducing the number of required stomach gastroscopies by 90 %, OGD procedural costs could be brought down to £14.5M, saving the NHS a staggering £77M annually.
GastroPanel also provides results far faster than biopsy analysis, giving reassurance and peace of mind to GPs and patients by ruling out the presence of pre-cancerous conditions of the stomach as soon as possible. Along with numerous medical advantages, GastroPanel could provide astounding financial benefits, by offering a more cost-effective diagnostic screening option and reducing the need for resource-heavy gastroscopies. Implementation of this simple blood test could save the NHS a tremendous amount of money each and every year, which can then be reinvested back into its high-quality patient care.
With such a high possibility of significant cost savings in sight, the next step is to evaluate and compare the current care pathway costs to a new and more streamlined pathway that includes GastroPanel. This will enable us to elicit the true potential for improving both patient management and overall cost effectiveness.
- Cancer Research UK, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/stomach-cancer/survival#heading-Three. Accessed 9th May 2022.
- Carter K, Hutchings H and Elwyn G. 2009. The Two-Week Rule for NHS Gastrointestinal Cancer Referrals: A Systematic Review of Diagnostic Effectiveness. The Open Colorectal Cancer Journal. 2:27-33. 10.2174/1876820200902010027.
- Atcuha I, Jones N, Chung-Faye G and Logan RPH. 2010. Cost effectiveness of UK suspected upper GI cancer pathway. Abstract: P0586. 59 (Suppl III) A226.
- Beg S, Ragunath K, Wyman A, Banks M, Trudgill N, Pritchard DM, Riley S, Anderson J, Griffiths H, Bhandari P, Kaye P and Veitch A. 2017. Quality standards in upper gastrointestinal endoscopy: a position statement of the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) and Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (AUGIS). 66 (11):1886-1899. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2017-314109. Epub 2017 Aug 18. Erratum in: Gut. 66 (12):2188. PMID: 28821598; PMCID: PMC5739858.
- NHS Payment Scheme 2021-2025, https://www.england.nhs.uk/publication/past-national-tariffs-documents-and-policies/ Accessed 17/04/2023.