Background: The results of gastric cancer treatment have improved during the past 2 decades. In addition to early diagnosis, surgeon experience and subspecialty may influence long-term outcomes. This study analyzed data accumulated during the past 20 years regarding the impact of surgical subspecialty on gastric cancer prognosis. Design: A 20-year, retrospective study. Setting: Korea University Guro Hospital, Seoul. Patients: A total of 2797 patients admitted between 1984 and 2003 with surgically treated, pathologically confirmed, primary gastric adenocarcinoma. Main Outcome Measure: Long-term survival. Results: The incidence of total gastrectomy and the number of retrieved lymphnodes increased during the study period. In curative cases, 5-year survival improved from 66.1% to 76.6%, and this survival gain was restricted to stages I, III, and IV. A Cox proportional hazards regression model showed that age, sex, tumor location, type of resection, stage, and the interaction between period of study and surgical subspecialty were independent prognostic factors. Conclusions: This large, long-term cohort study demonstrates that the management of gastric cancer has been largely successful, with favorable trends in prognostic factors. Successful outcomes are realized more often by gastric surgical specialists. Efforts must be made to improve the treatment of patients with stage II gastric cancer because the improvements in long-term results have plateaued.
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