Endoscopic mucosal resection with a ligation device (EMR-L) has become important in the curative treatment of precancerous lesions and early gastric cancers (EGCs), but little is known of the long-term efficacy and survival rates of EMR-L compared with surgical resection. We analyzed the therapeutic efficacy and safety of EMR-L in cases of EGC and precancerous lesions and compared the results of EMR-L with those of gastrectomy in patients with EGC over the same periods. EMR-L was performed on 20 EGCs and 54 precancerous lesions including tubular adenomas with or without severe dysplasias in 74 patients. Macroscopic type, size and location of the lesion were determined by endoscope, and the depth of invasion in EGCs was determined by endoscopic ultrasonography and confirmed by pathologic examination of the resected specimens. All the EGC cases were endoscopically followed up for at least 18 months (range, 18-66 months). Patients were selected that underwent subtotal gastrectomy and the survival rates were compared with those that underwent EMR-L. Complete resection was made in a single EMR-L treatment session in 61 cases (82.4%; 91.5% were precancerous lesions and 65% were EGCs). After a repeat trial of EMR-L, the total rate of complete resection of precancerous lesions and EGCs was 92.6% and 85.0%, respectively. The survival rate of EGCs showed that complete resection by EMR-L resulted in 2 and 5 year survival rates of 100% and 95%, which are comparable to those of surgery (100% and 100%). This study suggests that EMR-L is a technically simple, minimally invasive and highly safe and effective treatment modality for selective EGCs, and offers an alternative to surgical treatment.
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