Background: Less invasive treatment is the current trend in many surgical fields. Most patients with early gastric cancer do not have lymph node metastasis. Thus extensive resection of the stomach and extended lymph node dissection do not appear to be necessary.
Methods: In a retrospective study, 890 consecutive patients with early gastric cancer who had undergone standard gastrectomy were assessed for depth of invasion, gross appearance, and maximum diameter of the tumor to examine the possibility of limiting the extent of lymph node dissection. A variety of limited gastrectomies have been developed and now include endoscopic mucosal resection, wedge resection, segmental gastrectomy, limited proximal gastrectomy, and distal hemigastrectomy.
Results: A retrospective study revealed that extensive lymph node dissection did not improve the survival of patients with early gastric cancer. Endoscopic mucosal resection was suitable for cancers of the depressed type of less than 1 cm in diameter and the elevated type of less than 2 cm in diameter. Wedge, segmental, or limited proximal gastrectomy was suitable for the elevated type of 2 to 3 cm in diameter. The elevated type of more than 3 cm in diameter and the depressed type of 1 to 3 cm in diameter sometimes involved metastasis to group 1 nodes. The depressed type of more than 3 cm in diameter sometimes involved metastasis to group 2 nodes. Thus such cases should be treated by gastrectomy with dissection of potentially metastatic lymph nodes.
Conclusions: Limitation of the extent of gastrectomy and lymph node dissection may be possible, depending on the gross appearance and size of the tumor.