BACKGROUND: Although gastric cancer has been decreasing in incidence in many countries, it is still the second most common cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Its prognosis is poor and depends, among other factors, on early diagnosis as well as on surgeon expertise. AIM: To compare the outcomes of gastric cancer patients treated at a university hospital by a general surgical team and later on by a gastric cancer surgical team. METHODS: Gastric cancer patients were separated into two groups according to whether they were treated by a general surgical team (group 1, n = 136; 1984 to 1993) or by gastric cancer team (group 2, n = 149; 1994 to 2003). Clinical and pathologic features and survival rates were assessed. RESULTS: During a 20-year period, a decreased number of patients underwent surgical resection in the second period (94% vs 86%), a greater number of upper gastrointestinal endoscopies were performed resulting in an increased number of tumors diagnosed as stage I (5% vs 22%). Also, D2 gastrectomies were more frequently performed instead of D0 gastrectomies and negative surgical margins were adequate. Mortality decreased from 9% to 6% in group 1 and 2, respectively and adjuvant therapy has been considered. CONCLUSION: Surgical specialized units for gastric cancer are necessary if better results are to be expected since this approach definitely provides better patient care.
Stomach neoplasms; Gastrectomy