In February 2013, Japan became the first country in the world to cover Helicobacter pylori eradication for chronic gastritis under its National Health Insurance (NHI) system. Now that eradication therapy is covered by NHI, its usage has increased dramatically, and gastric cancer deaths have begun to decrease. We undertook a detailed epidemiological analysis to investigate effects of expanded NHI coverage for H. pylori eradication therapy on gastric cancer deaths in specific age groups. Numbers of gastric cancer deaths were determined by referencing data from Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reports and “Cancer Statistics in Japan – 2018” published by the Foundation for Promotion of Cancer Research. Gastric cancer deaths across all age groups have been clearly decreasing since 2013, but deaths of people aged 80 years and older are still increasing. The number of gastric cancer deaths in people aged in their 80s was 2 times higher than in people aged in their 70s and 4 times higher than in people aged in their 60s. The number of people in their 80s who had an endoscopy was less than half that of people in their 60s and 70s. The eradication therapy has increased dramatically, and gastric cancer deaths are clearly decreasing in Japan. However, this decrease in deaths has not extended to elderly adults aged in their 80s, which suggests that measures to prevent gastric cancer in people aged 80 years and older will be critical to achieving the mission of eliminating gastric cancer in Japan.
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