Background: Endoscopic resection is widely accepted as the primary treatment for early gastric cancer (EGC) without lymph node metastasis. A new and refined technique, endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD), may prove to be more effective; however, incomplete resection and local recurrence present ongoing concerns. We sought to determine the clinicopathological features associated with local recurrence in patients with EGC following endoscopic resection. Methods: We enrolled in this study 239 EGC patients treated by endoscopic resection between January 2002 and January 2008. Results: Fifty EGC lesions were treated by conventional endoscopic mucosal resection (EMR group) and 189 EGC lesions were treated by ESD (ESD group). During the follow-up period (mean = 30.3 months), the rates for en bloc resection and complete resection (defined as en bloc resection with negative resection margin) were 64% (32/50) and 60% (30/50), respectively, in the EMR group, and 86.8% (164/189) and 79.9% (151/189), respectively, in the ESD group. We observed seven local recurrences in the ESD group, though only one with complete resection by ESD had a local recurrence. The EMR group showed a significantly higher recurrence rate than did the ESD group (18% vs. 3.7%, respectively, p < 0.001). Incomplete resection significantly increased local recurrence risk, and larger tumor size and use of EMR increased the risk for incomplete resection. Most lesions (3/4) treated with additional argon plasma coagulation for an initial recurrence had recurred again. Conclusions: Despite the potential advantages in treating EGC with ESD, a risk for local recurrence remains. All patients treated with EMR, even with curative resection, and those with incomplete resection after ESD require conscientious surveillance for local recurrence. Furthermore, a large prospective study will be required to determine the best treatment modality for local recurrence.
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