Background and Objectives: Patients with pN3 gastric cancer are classified as having a stage IV disease just by virtue of having more than 15 metastatic lymph nodes according to the 5th UICC cancer staging criteria. We tried to verify whether the pN3 gastric cancer patients truly constitute a homogeneous group with the same poor prognosis by looking for predictors of long-term survival within the group. Methods: Medical records of 347 patients who had gastrectomy with D2/D3 lymph node dissection for gastric cancer and diagnosed with pN3 disease by pathology, between January 1987 and December 1997 were reviewed. Clinicopathologic prognostic variables were evaluated as predictors of long-term survival by univariate and multivariate analysis. Results: The overall 5-year survival rate was 13.0% (95% CI, 9.3-16.6%). The extent of gastric resection and metastatic lymph node ratio were significant independent predictors of long-term survival on multivariate analysis. The 5-year survival rates for the subtotal and total gastrectomy groups were 18.2 and 8.8%, respectively. The 5-year survival rate according to the metastatic lymph node ratio was 20.2, 8.9, and 1.9% when the ratio was <0.33, 0.33-0.67, and >0.67, respectively. Conclusions: Patients with pN3 gastric cancer appear to be a heterogeneous group with clinicopathologic predictors that identify subgroups with significantly different long-term prognoses. The metastatic lymph node ratio may serve as a valuable tool to predict the long-term prognosis of these patients.
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