Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2011; 34: 1047–1062
Background Helicobacter pylori infection is the main cause of gastric mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma.
Aim To review several common misconceptions in the management of H. pylori-associated gastric MALT-lymphoma.
Methods Bibliographical searches were performed in MEDLINE up to June 2011.
Results If adequate diagnostic methods are used, and if only low-grade lymphomas are considered, the prevalence of H. pylori infection is very high (almost 90%). H. pylori eradication is effective in treating approximately 80% of patients with early stage lymphoma. In H. pylori-positive gastric high-grade lymphomas, antibiotic therapy should always be prescribed, as approximately 50% of them regress after H. pylori eradication. Patients with early stage MALT lymphoma negative for H. pylori might still benefit from antibiotic treatment as the sole treatment. Complete remission of gastric MALT lymphoma after H. pylori eradication can take even >12 months. PCR assay for the detection of monoclonal B cells remains positive in many cases after complete remission has been reached. Patients with a persistent clonal band should not be treated unless the lymphoma can be histologically demonstrated. Synchronous occurrence of gastric adenocarcinoma and MALT lymphoma has been repeatedly reported. In some patients in complete remission, eradication of H. pylori does not prevent later development of early gastric cancer. Gastric lymphoma recurrence occurs in some patients after both bacterial and lymphoma regression. H. pylori reinfection does not constitute a prerequisite for lymphoma recurrence.
Conclusions The present article states several misconceptions in the management of H. pylori-associated gastric MALT-lymphoma in clinical practice, reviews the related scientific evidence and proposes the adequate attitude in each case.