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Impact of Programmed Death-Ligand 1 Expression on Mismatch Repair Deficiency and Epstein-Barr Virus Status on Survival Outcomes in Patients with Stage II/III Gastric Cancer After Surgery.

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to investigate the prognostic impact of mismatch repair (MMR) status, programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1) expression, and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) status in stage II/III gastric cancer after surgery.

METHODS: This study included 679 patients diagnosed with pathological stage II/III gastric cancer who underwent curative gastrectomy followed by adjuvant chemotherapy (AC) or observation between 2007 and 2015. Clinical outcomes were retrospectively reviewed and compared with stratification by AC and other clinicopathological factors.

RESULTS: Patients were divided into AC (n = 484) or surgery alone (SA; n = 195) groups and were further stratified by MMR and EBV status: MMR-deficient (DMMR) and MMR-proficient (PMMR) groups. Comparing the AC-DMMR group versus the AC-PMMR group, 5-year overall survival was 92.0% versus 74.0% (log-rank p < 0.01), and comparing the SA-DMMR group versus the SA-PMMR group, 5-year overall survival was 71.1% versus 73.7% (log-rank p = 0.89). DMMR (hazard ratio 0.25, 95% confidence interval 0.07-0.81) was identified as an independent prognostic factor in the AC group but not in the SA group. In the subgroup analysis, PD-L1-negative patients among the EBV-positive patients or in the DMMR group had a poor prognosis in both the AC and SA groups. The prognosis of the PMMR and EBV-negative patients was similar regardless of PD-L1 expression.

CONCLUSIONS: DMMR was associated with a favorable prognosis in stage II/III gastric cancer after surgery and adjuvant therapy. PD-L1 expression may affect the prognosis of DMMR and EBV-positive gastric cancer.

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