Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Gastric cancer: a curable disease in Britain.

British Medical Journal 1993; 307 doi: (Published 04 September 1993) Cite this as: British Medical Journal 1993;307:591
  1. H M Sue-Ling,
  2. D Johnston,
  3. I G Martin,
  4. M F Dixon,
  5. M R Lansdown,
  6. M J McMahon,
  7. A T Axon
  1. Academic Unit of Surgery, Centre for Digestive Diseases, General Infirmary, Leeds.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine whether more vigorous efforts aimed at earlier diagnosis allied to radical surgical resection lead to improved survival of patients with gastric cancer. DESIGN--Prospective audit of all cases of gastric cancer treated during 1970-89. SETTING--Department of surgery, general hospital. SUBJECTS--493 consecutive patients with gastric adenocarcinoma. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Operative mortality, postoperative morbidity, and five year survival after radical potentially curative resection. RESULTS--207 (42%) patients underwent potentially curative resection. The proportion of all patients in whom this was possible increased significantly (p < 0.01) from 31% in the first five year period to 53% in the last five year period. The proportion of patients who had early gastric cancer rose from 1% to 15% (p < 0.01) and stage I disease rose from 4% to 26% (p < 0.001). After potentially curative resection, mortality 30 days after operation was 6%. Operative mortality decreased from 9% in the 1970s to 5% in the 1980s. Likewise, the incidence of serious postoperative complications decreased from 33% in the 1970s to 17% in the 1980s (p < 0.01). Five year survival was 60% in patients who underwent curative resection, 98% in patients with early gastric cancer, and 93%, 69%, and 28% in stage I, II, and III disease respectively. By the late 1980s five year survival after operation was about 70%. CONCLUSIONS--These findings suggest that an increasing proportion of patients with gastric cancer could be diagnosed at a relatively early pathological stage when about two thirds are curable by means of radical surgery.