Positive peritoneal cytology in patients with gastric cancer: natural history and outcome of 291 patients

Ann Surg Oncol. 2010 Dec;17(12):3173-80. doi: 10.1245/s10434-010-1183-0. Epub 2010 Jun 29.


Background: Positive peritoneal cytology is a predictor of poor survival in patients with gastric cancer. Our aim is to more clearly define the natural history of this cohort.

Methods: Review of a prospectively maintained gastric cancer database of patients who had diagnostic laparoscopy with peritoneal washings. Clinicopathologic and treatment-related variables were obtained. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed for factors associated with disease-specific survival (DSS).

Results: From January 1993 to April 2009, a total of 1241 patients with gastric cancer underwent laparoscopy with peritoneal washings; 291 (23%) had positive cytology. There were 198 patients (68%) who had visible metastases discovered at laparoscopy (M1), and 93 patients (32%) were without gross evidence of advanced disease (M1 Cyt+). The median DSS for the entire cohort was 1 year; for M1, DSS was 0.8 years, and for M1 Cyt+ , DSS was 1.3 years. At baseline, independent predictors of worse DSS were poor performance status, M1 disease, and diffuse tumors. Among the subset of patients with M1 Cyt+ disease, performance status was the strongest independent predictor of DSS. A total of 48 of the 291 Cyt+ patients had repeat staging laparoscopy after chemotherapy. Compared with patients who had persistently positive cytology (n = 21), those who converted to negative cytology (n = 27) had a significant improvement in DSS (2.5 years vs. 1.4 years, P = 0.0003).

Conclusions: Patients with positive cytology as the only evidence of advanced disease exhibit a poor outcome; however, clearing of Cyt+ disease by chemotherapy is associated with a statistically significant improvement in DSS. The role for gastrectomy in patients with positive peritoneal cytology remains uncertain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cytodiagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology*
  • Peritoneal Lavage*
  • Peritoneal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Peritoneum / pathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*