Aims and background: Gastric cancer (GC) represents one of the most important causes of death by malignancy world wide. Our retrospective study was carried out on surgical stomach specimens obtained from a series of 552 consecutive cases of GC observed in the Departments of Surgical Pathology of the Public Hospitals of L'Aquila and Atri which cover the 17% of the entire population of the Italian Region Abruzzo. The aim of the study was to compare the anatomo-clinical characteristics of early GC (EGC) and advanced GC (AGC).
Methods: The diagnosis was achieved by the criteria of the Lauren's histopathological classification (intestinal and diffuse types). Our study also stratified the cases by sex, age, lymph node metastases and associated lesions such as chronic atrophic gastritis, intestinal metaplasia and dysplasia.
Results: On an average, patients affected by EGC were 8.1 years younger than those with AGC. This age gap could support the hypothesis that early lesions represent the first stage of AGC. However, when patients were subdivided according to Lauren's classification, the mean age of patients with EGC, diffuse type, was 12.2 years less than that of AGC patients of the corresponding histological type. Furthermore, the subset of patients with EGC, diffuse type, and lymph node metastases was 17.8 years younger than patients affected by AGC diffuse type, with lymph node metastases.
Conclusions: The present study offers an original survey on GC in a defined Italian population. As far as the intestinal histotype is concerned, the slight age difference between EGC and AGC suggests that these tumors are different steps of the same process. On the contrary, the age distribution suggests that EGC, diffuse type, has a different biological behaviour.