Minimally invasive treatment of gastric cancer has emerged as a result of the technical advances, better understanding of gastric physiology, and more knowledge of the biologic behavior of gastric cancer. This treatment results in improved quality of life embodied by smaller incisions, reduced length of hospital stay, and a faster return to productive life. However, minimally invasive treatment for gastric cancer must take into consideration the potential effects of these techniques on tumor dissemination at the time of the treatment procedure, as well as the rates of recurrence and overall survival. Several technical treatment approaches to gastric cancer have now become possible, utilizing endoscopy, laparoscopy, or an open method. Endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR), limited resection, and laparoscopic surgical resection are the currently practiced modalities as the minimally invasive treatment. Lymph node dissection with the minimally invasive techniques is a barrier to its wide application. Although it is not commonly performed in Western countries, the use of minimally invasive treatment for gastric cancer is growing, especially in Korea and Japan. Minimally invasive treatment for early gastric cancer (EGC) has already been shown to be safe and effective in many retrospective series though no prospective randomized studies comparing it to open resection have been performed. Therefore, routine implementation of these procedures must await confirmatory outcomes generated by well-done randomized prospective clinical trials.
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