Historical assumptions of lymphadenectomy

Paolo Morgagni, Domenico Tringali, Giuliano La Barba, Giovanni Vittimberga, Giorgio Ercolani


The role of lymphadenectomy for the treatment of gastric cancer is still very much open to debate. Consequently, Japanese, European and American surgeons perform different typologies of lymphadenectomy because of the absence of randomized clinical trials confirming the superiority of extended lymphadenectomy over less invasive surgery. In Japan, D2 lymphadenectomy has been considered as the gold standard for advanced gastric carcinoma for many years. Although numerous European studies have been conducted in an attempt to find differences between D1 and D2 lymphadenectomy, none has succeeded to date. The decision to wait for results attesting to the fact that D2 guarantees a better outcome than D1 resulted in a long delay in the implementation of D2 as the gold standard treatment in Europe. In the U.S., the study by Macdonald et al. established D1 lymphadenectomy followed by chemoradiotherapy as the treatment of choice for advanced cancer, whereas D2 is officially indicated as the gold standard in the most recent European guidelines [the Italian Research Group for Gastric Cancer (GIRGC), German, British, ESSO]. Interestingly, European guidelines for lymphadenectomy are not based on evidence-based medicine but rather on the experience of the most important centers involved in the treatment of gastric cancer.