Signet ring cell carcinoma of early gastric cancer, is endoscopic treatment really risky?

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Signet ring cell carcinoma (SRC) is a poorly differentiated cancer of the stomach. Generally, poorly differentiated cancer is believed to show poor prognosis and aggressive behavior. Recently, however, there is debate on the aggressiveness of SRC in early gastric cancer (EGC). We therefore studied postoperation biopsies to investigate the aggressiveness of SRC in EGC.

We reviewed medical records of patients with EGC who had surgery from January 2011 to December 2015 in a tertiary hospital in Daejeon, South Korea. We evaluated the histologic type, invasion depth, lymphovascular invasion (LVI), and lymph node (LN) metastasis.

A total of 822 EGC lesions from 789 patients were studied. Approximately 498 differentiated cancer, 65 poorly differentiated cancer, 91 SRC, 26 poorly differentiated with SRC, 41 mixed type, 10 medullary carcinoma, and 91 poorly cohesive carcinoma other than SRC were included. LN metastasis was associated with the histologic type of EGC (P = .000). Nine percent of differentiated cancer, 21.5% of poorly differentiated cancer, 5.5% of SRC, 11.5% of poor differentiation with SRC, 26.8% of mixed type, 20% of medullary type, and 15.4% of poorly cohesive carcinoma other than SRC showed LN metastasis. The risk of SRC was not higher than well to moderated differentiated cancer (odds ratio [OR] = 0.842, P = .768). Risk of LVI was also similar with LN metastasis. Compared with differentiated cancer, OR of SRC was 1.969 (P = .172).

Our results show that SRC is not more aggressive than differentiated cancer. SRC may be considered a candidate for endoscopic treatment.

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