Even in clinical stage IV gastric cancer (GC), surgical procedures may be required to palliate symptoms or in an attempt to improve survival. However, the limited survival of these patients raises doubts about who really had benefits from it.
This study aimed to analyze the surgical outcomes in stage IV GC treated with surgical procedures without curative intent.
Retrospective analyses of patients with stage IV GC submitted to surgical procedures including tumor resection, bypass, jejunostomy, and diagnostic laparoscopy were performed. Patients with GC undergoing curative gastrectomy served as the comparison group.
Surgical procedures in clinical stage IV were performed in 363 patients. Compared to curative surgery (680 patients), stage IV patients had a higher rate of comorbidities and ASA III/IV classification. The surgical procedures that were performed included 107 (29.4%) bypass procedures (partitioning/gastrojejunal anastomosis), 85 (23.4%) jejunostomies, 76 (20.9%) resections, and 76 (20.9%) diagnostic laparoscopies. Regarding patients’ characteristics, resected patients had more distant metastasis (p=0.011), bypass patients were associated with disease in more than one site (p<0.001), and laparoscopy patients had more peritoneal metastasis (p<0.001). According to the type of surgery, the median overall survival was as follows: resection (13.6 months), bypass (7.8 months), jejunostomy (2.7 months), and diagnostic (7.8 months, p<0.001). On multivariate analysis, low albumin levels, in case of more than one site of disease, jejunostomy, and laparoscopy, were associated with worse survival.
Stage IV resected cases have better survival, while patients submitted to jejunostomy and diagnostic laparoscopy had the worst results. The proper identification of patients who would benefit from surgical resection may improve survival and avoid futile procedures.
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