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Abstract

Background

Endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD) is not considered appropriate for all submucosal cancers owing to the risk of lymph node metastasis and difficulty estimating the deep margin status. This study aimed to determine predictive factors for lymph node metastases in submucosal cancer and to explore in which patients ESD might be feasible.

Methods

Details of patients who had curative gastrectomy for submucosal gastric cancer at Asan Medical Centre from 2007 to 2011 were reviewed retrospectively to determine the relationship between lymph node metastasis and clinicopathological characteristics, including age, sex, tumour location, size, gross appearance, depth of invasion, histological type/differentiation, presence of lymphovascular/perineural invasion, and immunohistochemical staining results for p53, human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) 1 and HER2.

Results

A total of 1773 patients were analysed. The presence of lymphovascular invasion was related most strongly to lymph node metastasis. Multivariable analysis revealed that depth of invasion, tumour size, differentiation, gross appearance and perineural invasion were also related. Metastatic lymph nodes were found in four of 105 patients who met the classical criteria for ESD; all showed a moderately differentiated histological appearance. No lymph node metastases were observed in well differentiated SM1 tumours of any size (infiltration into upper third of submucosa), or in well differentiated SM2 (infiltration into middle third of submucosa) tumours of 2 cm or less without lymphovascular invasion.

Conclusion

Patients with well differentiated SM1 cancer of any size and those with well differentiated SM2 cancer of 2 cm or less without lymphovascular invasion may be suitable candidates for ESD.