Because insufficient lymph node examination can cause erroneous listing of earlier-nodal-stage gastric carcinoma (stage migration phenomenon), surgical results must be evaluated based on a highly accurate examination of the dissected lymph nodes. To establish a simple and useful classification of lymph node level, we analyzed the frequency and distribution of lymph node metastasis by using curatively treated nodepositive gastric carcinoma. Various clinicopathologic data were analyzed with reference to the degree of lymph node metastasis by using 240 patients with curatively resected node-positive gastric carcinoma. The cases were divided into the following three groups: 142 with positive level I (perigastric) nodes, 71 with positive level II (intermediate) nodes, and 27 with positive level III (distant) nodes, irrespective of the location of tumors. The level of lymph node metastasis clearly correlated with the survival of patients, with the 5-year survival rates for level I, II, and III cases being 67%, 35%, and 26%, respectively (P <0.01). The degree of lymph node metastasis was determined by the number of positive nodes (P <0.01), the depth of invasion (P <0.01), the size of tumors (P <0.01), and the location of tumors (P <0.05). This simple classification of lymph node level (level I, II, and III) is useful for the evaluation and prediction of surgical results in gastric carcinoma.
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