Is Centralization Needed for Esophageal and Gastric Cancer Patients With Low Operative Risk?: A Nationwide Study

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To investigate the impact of center volume on postoperative mortality (POM) according to patient condition.


Centralization has been shown to improve POM in esophageal and, to a lesser extent, gastric cancer surgery; however, the benefit of centralization for patients with low operative risk is questionable.


All consecutive patients who underwent esophageal or gastric cancer surgery between 2010 and 2012 in France were included (N = 11,196). The 30-day POM was compared in terms of the center volume (low: <20 cases per year, intermediate: 20–39, high: 40–59, and very high: ≥60) and stratified according to the Charlson score (0, 1–2, ≥3). The consistency across the esophageal (n = 3286) and gastric (n = 7910) subgroups, and variations between 30-day and 90-day POM were analyzed.


Low-volume centers treated 64.2% of patients. A linear decrease in 30-day and 90-day POM was observed with increasing center volume, with rates of 5.7% and 10.2%, 4.3% and 7.9%, 3.3% and 6.7%, and 1.7% and 3.6% in low, intermediate, high, and very high-volume centers, respectively (P < 0.001). Comparing low and very high-volume centers, 30-day POM was 4.0% versus 1.1% for Charlson 0 (P = 0.001), 7.5% versus 3.4% for Charlson 1 to 2 (P < 0.001), and 14.7% versus 3.7% for Charlson ≥3 (P = 0.003) patients. A similar linear decrease was observed in the esophageal and gastric cancer subgroups. Between the low and very high-volume centers, an almost 70% reduction in the relative risk of POM was systematically observed, independent of Charlson score or tumor location.


To improve POM, esophageal and gastric cancer surgery should be centralized, irrespective of the patient's comorbidity or tumor location.

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