Background.: Our objective was to evaluate the long-term benefit of R2/3 lymph node dissection compared with that of R1, even in node-negative cases. Methods.: We analyzed clinicopathologic data on 373 surgically treated patients with early gastric cancer and without microscopic nodal involvement. Results.: Five- and 10-year survival rates for patients treated with R2/3 gastrectomy were 97.3% and 95.4%, respectvely. These values were significantly higher than the 90.1% and 81.1% noted for R1 gastrectomy (p<0.01). Although no difference was found in morbidity and mortality, the incidence of death from a recurrence of the gastric cancer was significantly higher in patients treated with R1 gastrectomy than those with R2/3. Multivariate analysis with the Cox's proportional hazard model revealed patients' age and R2/3 gastrectomy to be independent prognostic factors in patients with node-negative early gastric cancer. Conclusions.: These data show that prophylactic lymph node dissection can potentially prolong the survival time of patients with node-negative early gastric cancer by preventing a recurrence of the gastric cancer.
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