Function-preserving surgery for gastric cancer: current status and future perspectives
The number of early gastric cancer (EGC) cases has been increasing because of improved diagnostic procedures including endoscopy and screening systems. Therefore, function-preserving gastrectomy (FPG) for EGC with the expectation of better quality of life (QOL) after surgery may be increasingly utilized, due to its association with low rate of lymph node metastasis and excellent survival and the possibility of employing less invasive procedures such as laparoscopic gastrectomy in combination. Pylorus-preserving gastrectomy (PPG) with curative intent lymph node dissection is a representative FPG that has been used in EGC, and its superiorities, indications, limitations, and survival benefits have already been reported in several retrospective studies. Laparoscopic proximal gastrectomy (LAPG) has also been employed in EGC of the upper third of the stomach; however, LAPG was found to be associated with major issues in achieving a balance between swallowing and reflux prevention. In patients with EGC in the upper third of the stomach, laparoscopy-assisted subtotal gastrectomy with a preserved, albeit very small, stomach may provide a better QOL and fewer postoperative complications. FPG is recommended as a surgical treatment for EGC if the indication is accurately diagnosed and strictly confirmed; however, these techniques in laparoscopic surgery present technical difficulties to surgeons without a certain degree of skills. Although many retrospective studies revealed the functional benefits or oncological safety with FPG, further prospective studies using large case series are necessary to reveal the value of FPG compared with the conventional procedures.