The study 'Epidemiological trends of premalignant gastric lesions: A long-term nationwide study in the Netherlands' was based on the long term monitoring of the three types of cell changes indicative of subsequent stomach cancer.
The researchers tracked all new cases of atrophic gastritis, intestinal metaplasia, and dysplasia from 1991 to 2005, recorded in the Dutch national registry, of almost 98,000 patients who had a routine tissue sample (biopsy) taken.
Most of the cases were intestinal metaplasia, which was diagnosed in almost 66,000 patients during the monitoring period.
The study found that the rate of new cases fell steadily by between 2.4 and 2.9 percent a year in women and men, respectively.
Dysplasia, which was diagnosed in just over 8500 patients, and atrophic gastritis, which was diagnosed in just over 23,000, both fell by more than 8 percent a year.
The figures showed that the fall in new cases of intestinal metaplasia and atrophic gastritis was even sharper after 1996.
On the basis of these trends, the authors calculate that new cases of gastric cancer will fall by 'at least 24 percent' over the next decade in the West, without the need for treatment.
The findings of the study were published in the journal Gut.