Background: In Japan, the standard treatment policy for all potentially curable patients with gastric cancer is radical resection, including extensive lymph node dissection. The extent of lymph node dissection remains a controversial issue in the management of early gastric cancer. A recent trend in the surgical treatment of early gastric carcinoma has been to limit surgery such that a complete cure is achieved and the patient's quality of life is improved. However, approximately 10% of early gastric cancers are reported to be node positive and little is known about the protocol of surgical treatment most appropriate for the treatment of early gastric cancer. In this study, we examined the clinicopathological features that could distinguish node-positive cancer from node-negative cancer.
Patients and methods: The clinicopathological features of 26 patients with node-positive early gastric cancer were reviewed from the database of gastric cancer at the Department of Surgery, Sendai National Hospital. They were compared with those of 239 patients with node-negative cancer.
Results: Tumor size, macroscopic appearance, depth of cancer invasion, histological growth pattern and lymphatic invasion were associated with lymph node metastasis. Node-positive patients with early gastric cancer had a poorer survival rate than node-negative patients (P<0.05).
Conclusion: Limited surgery, such as local resection without lymphadenectomy, can be performed for elevated or flat type cancer, or tumor <2 cm in diameter. Lymphadenectomy is recommended to achieve higher possible cure rates for other early gastric cancers.