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Abstract

Background:

Gastrectomy for early gastric cancer is widely accepted as an adequate therapeutic method. Recent developments of less invasive procedures require the identification of patients who will benefit from such an approach.

Methods:

A retrospective study was undertaken of 238 patients with early gastric cancer who underwent gastrectomy from 1977 to 1999. Clinicopathological data relating to survival were evaluated.

Results:

Analysis of 33 node-positive patients (14 per cent) revealed a tumour diameter greater than 20 mm (P = 0·011), depressed macroscopic type (P < 0·05), diffuse histological type (P < 0·001), poor tumour differentiation (P < 0·001) and infiltration of the submucosal layer (P < 0·002) as factors associated with lymph node metastasis. Multivariate analysis found diffuse histological type to be an independent risk factor. The overall 5-year survival rate was 87 per cent, and was significantly better in patients who underwent radical lymphadenectomy than in those who had regional lymph node dissection (92 versus 78 per cent; P < 0·01). Similarly, patients younger than 65 years had a more favourable 5-year survival rate (90 per cent) than older ones (77 per cent). Multivariate analysis with the Cox proportional hazards model confirmed patient age and type of lymphadenectomy as independent prognostic factors.

Conclusion:

The findings suggest that extended lymph node dissection may be beneficial for some patients with early gastric cancer, although randomized clinical trials are needed to evaluate this observation further. © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd