Background: We evaluated the long-term natural history of gastric cancer after radical gastrectomy and adjuvant chemotherapy through a 15-year follow-up study at a single institute. Methods: Five hundred patients with advanced gastric adenocarcinoma who received radical gastrectomy and adjuvant chemotherapy were included in this long-term follow-up study. Patients were evaluated by imaging studies and upper gastrointestinal series or endoscopy every 6 months until the 10th year after surgery. Since then, the patients have been followed yearly in the same manner. Results: The median follow-up period was 190.5 months. The recurrence rate in 5-year survivors was 10.8%. The dominant recurrence pattern was peritoneal carcinomatosis within 5 years and distant metastasis after 5 years post gastrectomy. Tumor stage was a clear-cut prognosticator within 5 years post gastrectomy, but was no longer informative in 5-10 years. At this period, only stage IV (IB-IIIB vs IVM0) was a significantly poor prognosticator. After 10 years, second primary cancer (seven cases) became as important an issue as recurrence of primary gastric cancer (six cases). Conclusions: In patients with gastric carcinoma treated with radical gastrectomy and adjuvant chemotherapy, late recurrence after 5 years post gastrectomy was not rare. Prognosticators were varied depending on the length of time after surgery. Tumor factors including stage were prognosticators within 5 years post gastrectomy, but tumor factors except stage IV had no prognostic value after 5 years. In the 5-10 years post gastrectomy, only stage IV (IB-IIIB vs IVM0) was a poor prognosticator. Also, after 10 years, there were no prognosticators.
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