Objective: Surgeons have postulated on numerous occasions that cancer resection may participate in the dissemination of a malignancy. This randomized trial sought to determine whether a large volume of chemotherapy solution used perioperatively to flood the peritoneal cavity could eliminate microscopic residual disease and thereby improve survival of patients with gastric cancer.
Summary background data: Surgical treatment failures in patients with gastric cancer are confined to the abdomen in most patients. Resection site and peritoneal surface spread, along with liver metastases, are the most common areas of recurrence. Survival and quality of life of patients with gastric cancer would be improved if disease progression at these anatomic sites was reduced.
Methods: In a prospective randomized trial of 248 patients, intraperitoneal mitomycin C on day 1 and intraperitoneal 5-fluorouracil on days 2 through 5 were administered after gastric cancer resection. Patients who were thought to have stage II or stage III disease were randomized after resection to surgery alone versus surgery plus early postoperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy. After final pathologic examinations, there were 39 patients with stage I, 50 with stage II 95 with stage III, and 64 with resected stage IV cancer.
Results: The 5-year survival of the surgery-only group was 29.3%, and the surgery-plus-intraperitoneal chemotherapy group was 38.7% (p = 0.219). In a subset analysis, the patients with stage I, stage II, and stage IV disease showed no statistically significant difference in survival. The 5-year survival rate of patients with stage III disease who underwent surgery only was 18.4% versus a survival rate of 49.1% for patients who underwent surgery plus intraperitoneal chemotherapy (p = 0.011).
Conclusions: In a subset analysis, patients with stage III gastric cancer have shown a statistically significant improvement in survival when treated with perioperative intraperitoneal chemotherapy. Further studies in patients with gastric cancer with surgically directed chemotherapy are suggested.