The role of surgical therapy in patients with liver metastases from gastric cancer is still controversial. In this study, we investigated the results obtained with local treatment of hepatic metastases in patients with gastric cancer, by performing a systematic literature review and meta-analysis. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies published between 1990 and 2014. These works included multiple studies that evaluated the different survival rate among patients who underwent local treatment, such as hepatectomy or radiofrequency ablation, for hepatic metastases derived from primary gastric cancer. The collected studies were evaluated for heterogeneity, publication bias, and quality, and a pooled hazard ratio (HR) was calculated with a confidence interval estimated at 95% (95% CI). After conducting a thorough research among all published works, 2337 studies were found and after the review process 11 observational studies were included in the analysis. The total amount of patients considered in the survival analysis was 1010. An accurate analysis of all included studies reported a significantly higher survival rate in the group of patients who underwent the most aggressive local treatment for hepatic metastases (HR 0.54, 95% CI 0.46-0.95) as opposed to patients who underwent only palliation or systemic treatment. Furthermore, palliative local treatment of hepatic metastases had a higher survival rate if compared to surgical (without liver surgery) and systemic palliation (HR 0.50, 95% CI 0.26-0.96). Considering the only 3 studies where data from multivariate analyses was available, we found a higher survival rate in the local treatment groups, but the difference was not significant (HR 0.50, 95% CI 0.22-1.15). Curative and also palliative surgery of liver metastases from gastric cancer may improve patients' survival. However, further trials are needed in order to better understand the role of surgery in this group of patients.
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