Risk factors and oncological impact of positive resection margins in gastrectomy for cancer: are they salvaged by an additional resection?

Background: The situation of positive resection margins (PRMs) varies notably between Western and Asian countries. In the West, PRMs are associated with advanced disease and R1, whereas in Asia, PRMs are also considered in early disease because stomach preservation was recently prioritized. Furthermore, PRMs are usually resected to obtain R0. However, the oncological impact of PRMs and additional resection remains unclear. The aim of this study is to evaluate the oncological impact of PRMs in laparoscopic gastrectomy (LG) for clinical stage (cStage) I gastric cancer.

Methods: A total of 2121 patients who underwent LG for cStage I gastric cancer between 2007 and 2015 were enrolled. Survival outcomes were compared between patients with PRMs (group P) and those without (group N). Furthermore, prognostic factors were analyzed using multivariate analysis.

Results: Twenty-seven patients (1.3%) had PRMs. Patients in group P had upper and more advanced disease, and the 5-year relapse-free survival (RFS) rate was worse in group P compared with group N (76.3% vs. 95.1%, P = 0.003). The 5-year RFS of patients with pT2 or deeper (pT2-4) disease in group P was significantly worse than that of patients in group N (66.7% vs. 89.5%, P = 0.030) although that of patients with pT1 was not. Likelihood ratio tests showed that there was a significant interaction between pT status and PRM (P = 0.005).

Conclusion: PRM in cStage I gastric cancer is associated with advanced upper disease. It remains an independent prognostic factor in pT2-4 disease even after an additional resection to obtain R0.