Redefining early gastric cancer

Savio G Barreto, John A Windsor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The problem is that current definitions of early gastric cancer allow the inclusion of regional lymph node metastases. The increasing use of endoscopic submucosal dissection to treat early gastric cancer is a concern because regional lymph nodes are not addressed. The aim of the study was thus to critically evaluate current evidence with regard to tumour-specific factors associated with lymph node metastases in “early gastric cancer” to develop a more precise definition and improve clinical management.

Methods: A systematic and comprehensive search of major reference databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed and the Cochrane Library) was undertaken using a combination of text words “early gastric cancer”, “lymph node metastasis”, “factors”, “endoscopy”, “surgery”, “lymphadenectomy” “mucosa”, “submucosa”, “lymphovascular invasion”, “differentiated”, “undifferentiated” and “ulcer”. All available publications that described tumour-related factors associated with lymph node metastases in early gastric cancer were included.

Results: The initial search yielded 1494 studies, of which 42 studies were included in the final analysis. Over time, the definition of early gastric cancer has broadened and the indications for endoscopic treatment have widened. The mean frequency of lymph node metastases increased on the basis of depth of infiltration (mucosa 6 % vs. submucosa 28 %), presence of lymphovascular invasion (absence 9 % vs. presence 53 %), tumour differentiation (differentiated 13 % vs. undifferentiated 34 %) and macroscopic type (elevated 13 % vs. flat 26 %) and tumour diameter (≤2 cm 8 % vs. >2 cm 25 %).

Conclusion: There is a need to re-examine the diagnosis and staging of early gastric cancer to ensure that patients with one or more identifiable risk factor for lymph node metastases are not denied appropriate chemotherapy and surgical resection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-37
Number of pages14
JournalSurgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques
Issue number1
Early online date1 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • gastric cancer
  • therapeutic
  • endoscopy
  • lymph node metastases
  • Stomach
  • Early gastric cancer, definitions, endoscopy
  • Outcome


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