Background. The rate of gastric cancer in young patients has increased over the past few decades. The aim of this study was to search for independent risk factors related to patients of younger age. Methods. From January 1996 to December 2012, a series of 179 consecutive patients were admitted to our surgical department because of a gastric cancer. We carried out a retrospective cohort study in 20 patients younger than 50 and in 112 patients aged 50 and older treated by curative gastrectomy. The comparison involved the evaluation of patient and tumor characteristics. Results. Younger patients had significantly less comorbidities and a more favorable American Society of Anesthesiology score; they had significantly less preoperative weight loss and a significantly longer duration of symptoms; Helicobacter pylori infection and diffuse histological type were significantly associated with younger age. There was no statistically significant difference regarding overall and cancer-related 5-year survival; advanced cancer stage and diffuse histological type were the independent negative prognostic factors influencing cancer-related survival. Conclusions. We do not have sufficient evidence to consider gastric cancer in younger patients as a different clinical entity. Further studies are needed to understand carcinogenesis in younger patients and to improve gastric cancer classification.
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