Background: Free peritoneal tumor cells (FPTCs) are an independent prognostic factor in patients undergoing curative resection for gastric carcinoma. Whether neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) can eliminate FPTCs in the peritoneal lavage remains unclear. The aim of the study was to determine the effect of NAC on FPTCs.
Methods: From 1994 to 2000, data from a total of 61 patients with resectable gastric cancer were analyzed. Peritoneal cytology was performed before NAC at laparoscopy and at tumor resection. A minimum of 6 weeks of NAC, consisting of cisplatin, folinic acid, and fluorouracil, was administered. FPTCs were detected immunohistochemically with Ber-EP4 antibody.
Results: No FPTCs could be detected in 42 patients (69%), compared to 19 (31%) with FPTCs before NAC. During chemotherapy, 10 (24%) of 42 patients developed FPTCs, and 7 (37%) of 19 patients reverted from positive to negative. Patients who became FPTC negative (n = 7) showed an improved median survival (36.1 months) and a longer 2-year survival (71.4%) compared to FPTC-positive patients before and after NAC (n = 12), with a median survival of 9.2 months and a 2-year survival rate of 25%. In contrast, patients who reverted from FPTC negative to positive during NAC (n = 10) had a median survival of 18.5 months and a 2-year survival of only 20%. Multivariate analysis identified ypN category and FPTC change as independent prognostic factors.
Conclusions: NAC for patients with positive cytology could lead to FPTC negativity in a subset of patients and improve their prognosis. However, NAC might be a risky strategy for almost one-quarter of patients whose disease develops positive cytology.