Failure to operate on resectable gastric cancer: implications for policy changes and regionalization

J Surg Res. 2017 Jun 15;214:229-239. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2017.03.043. Epub 2017 Mar 31.


Background: A significant proportion of patients never receive curative-intent surgery for resectable gastric cancer (GC). The primary aims of this study were to identify disparities and targetable risk factors associated with failure to operate in the context of national trends in surgical rates for resectable GC.

Methods: The National Cancer Database was used to identify patients with resectable GC (adenocarcinoma, clinical stage IA-IIIC, 2004-2013). Multivariate modeling was used to identify predictors of resection and to analyze the impact of surgery on overall survival (OS).

Results: Of 46,970 patients with resectable GC, 18,085 (39%) did not receive an appropriate operation. Among unresected patients, 69% had no comorbidities. Failure to resect was associated with reduced median OS (44.4 versus 11.8 mo, hazard ratio [HR]: 2.09, P < 0.001). In the multivariate analysis, the most critical factors affecting OS were resection (HR: 2.09) and stage (reference IA; HR range: 1.16-3.50, stage IB-IIIC). Variables independently associated with no surgery included insurance other than private or Medicare (odds ratio [OR]: 1.60/1.54), nonacademic/nonresearch hospital (OR: 1.16), non-Asian race (OR: 1.72), male (OR: 1.19), older age (OR: 1.04), Charlson-Deyo score >1 (OR: 1.17), residing in areas with median income <$48,000 (OR: 1.23), small urban populations <20,000 (OR: 1.41), and stage (reference IA; OR range: 1.36-3.79, stage IB-IIIC, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Over one-third of patients with resectable GC fail to receive surgery. Suitable insurance coverage and treatment facility are the most salient (and only modifiable) risk factors for omitting surgery. To mitigate national disparities in surgical care, policymakers should consider improving insurance coverage in underserved areas and regionalization of gastric cancer care.

Keywords: Early cancer; Failure to operate; Gastrectomy; Gastric cancer; Resectable; Survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / mortality
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gastrectomy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Policy
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Stomach Neoplasms / mortality
  • Stomach Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States