Background: An accurate assessment of potential lymph node metastasis is important for the appropriate treatment of early gastric cancers. Therefore, this study analyzed predictive factors associated with lymph node metastasis and identified differences between mucosal and submucosal gastric cancers. Materials and
Methods: A total of 518 early gastric cancer patients who underwent radical gastrectomy were reviewed in this study. Clinicopathological features were analyzed to identify predictive factors for lymph node metastasis.
Results: The rate of lymph node metastasis in early gastric cancer was 15.3% overall, 3.3% for mucosal cancer, and 23.5% for submucosal cancer. Using univariate analysis, risk factors for lymph node metastasis were identified as tumor location, tumor size, depth of tumor invasion, histological type and lymphovascular invasion. Multivariate analysis revealed that tumor size >2 cm, submucosal invasion, undifferentiated tumors and lymphovascular invasion were independent risk factors for lymph node metastasis. When the carcinomas were confined to the mucosal layer, tumor size showed a significant correlation with lymph node metastasis. On the other hand, histological type and lymphovascular invasion were associated with lymph node metastasis in submucosal carcinomas.
Conclusions: Tumor size >2 cm, submucosal tumor, undifferentiated tumor and lymphovascular invasion are predictive factors for lymph node metastasis in early gastric cancer. Risk factors are quite different depending on depth of tumor invasion. Endoscopic treatment might be possible in highly selective cases.