While the presence of lymph node metastases in early gastric cancer (EGC) is the most significant prognostic factor, the relevance of lymph node micrometastases remains uncertain. The authors studied 5400 lymph nodes dissected from 300 patients treated surgically for EGC between 1976 and 1999, all of whom were histologically pN0. Micrometastases were defined as single or small clusters of neoplastic cells identifiable only by immunohistochemical methods. Lymph node micrometastases were observed in 30 of the 300 patients (10%). No significant correlation was observed between micrometastases and other clinicopathological characteristics. Analysis of overall survival showed no significant difference between positive or negative micrometastasis groups. The results of our study show that the presence of lymph node micrometastases in EGC does not influence patient prognosis.
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