Helicobacter pylori: Study shows Valley hotspots for common bacteria

PHOENIX - A recent study shows hotspots for a common bacteria that develop into ulcers and stomach cancer in some patients.
Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria found everywhere and some people can be carriers for it and never get sick.
Cigna Medical Group of Arizona  recently completed a year-long study in the Valley showing patients in some areas tested positive at a higher rate than others.
The study shows a relatively small sample of the population but is relevant because so many cases go undiagnosed, explained gastroenterologist Dr. Neil Shernoff, who is the director of endoscopy for Cigna here in the Valley.
Of 338 patients tested over the past year, about 10 percent of positive cases occurred in Sun City, Guadalupe and south Phoenix.   
 "It is everywhere," said Shernoff.  "We are trying to get patients and doctors more aware."   It is unclear why those areas show higher incidences.
Shernoff explains often patients do not get tested and some may suffer stomach discomfort for a long time that is treated as acid reflux or heartburn.  The longer it goes untreated increases the risk of more serious health problems. 
Shernoff said the key symptom is pain high in the center of your stomach.
The bacteria can be treated with a combination of antibiotics and usually can be diagnosed with a blood test.
Shernoff said good hygiene and awareness are the best ways to prevent the bacteria from creating serious health problems.

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