Objective: Special emphasis has been placed on pathologic features, survival after surgical treatment, and prognostic factors.
Summary background data: Incidence is much lower in Western countries than in Japan. All degrees of tumor differentiation met in invasive cancer may be found. Prognosis is remarkably good, compared with advanced gastric cancer.
Methods: After reexamination of the pathologic specimens of 115 patients, 101 patients were included in this study; 58 were male. Mean age was 60.7 years. Preoperative biopsies were positive in 88%. The lesion was located in the antrum in 78 patients. Subtotal gastrectomy was performed in 85 patients and total gastrectomy in 13 patients with a RI lymph node resection.
Results: Cancer was extended to submucosa in 68.3%, poorly differentiated in 48.5%, and multifocal in 12.9% of patients. Lymph node involvement was present in 18.8%. Secondary deaths (n = 25) were in relation with the cancer in 6 patients only. The 5-, 10-, 15-, and 20-year actuarial crude survival rates were 88, 65, 58, and 51%, respectively. The survival rate was significantly higher for mucosal lesions than for submucosal lesions (p < 0.01). Survival showed no significant correlation with lymph node involvement, tumor size, and differentiation.
Conclusions: Subtotal gastrectomy is recommended, except for proximal lesions, with survey of the gastric stump. Prognosis is significantly better for cancers limited to mucosa. Early gastric cancer is not a specific entity. Transitions between early and advanced carcinomas, especially observed in the poorly differentiated carcinomas with signet ring cells, suggest that this type of cancer should be a precursor of the invasive gastric carcinomas.