Extended lymphadenectomy in gastric cancer is debatable

Vivian E Strong, Sam S Yoon
World Journal of Surgery 2013, 37 (8): 1773-7
Much debate still exists regarding the appropriate extent of lymphadenectomy for gastric adenocarcinoma. In high incidence countries in Eastern Asia, more extensive (e.g. D2) lymphadenectomies are standard, and these surgeries are generally done by experienced surgeons with low morbidity (<20 %) and mortality (<1 %). In United States and Western Europe, where the incidence of gastric adenocarcinoma is much lower, the majority of patients are treated at non-referral centers with less extensive (e.g. D1 or D0) lymphadenectomy. This symposium article first reviews early studies that led to recommendations for less extensive lymphadenectomy. Two large prospective, randomized trials performed in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in the 1990s failed to demonstrate a survival benefit of D2 over D1 lymphadenectomy, but these trials have been criticized for inadequate surgical training and high surgical morbidity (43-46 %) and high mortality rates (10-13 %) in the D2 group. We then discuss more contemporary studies that support more extensive lymphadenectomy with a minimum of 16 lymph nodes for adequate staging. The 15-year follow-up of the Netherlands trial now demonstrates an improved disease-specific survival and locoregional recurrence in the D2 group. A prospective, randomized trial from Taiwan found a survival benefit of more extensive lymphadenectomies, and another randomized trial from Japan found adding dissection of para-aortic nodes to a D2 lymphadenectomy did not improve survival. Western surgeons have increasingly accepted the importance of performing more than a D1 node dissection, and Eastern surgeons are accepting that more than a D2 node dissection does not improve survival and increases morbidity. Thus both Eastern and Western approaches are favoring D2 lymphadenectomy as a standard, and on this topic we appear to be harmonizing.

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