The clinicopathological features and prognosis of gastric cancer in 344 patients aged 70 years or older who underwent gastrectomy between 1965 and 1990 were determined. Over the years the mean size of the tumour decreased, differentiated tumour tissue was more common, depth of penetration was less prominent, lymphatic and vascular involvement was less frequent, and the rate of lymph node metastasis and peritoneal dissemination decreased. Extensive lymph node dissection was more frequently carried out and the rate of curative resection rose. Survival rates improved with early detection of gastric cancer and there was no increase in operative morbidity and mortality rates. As age alone is not a contraindication to surgery for patients with gastric carcinoma, early detection of the lesion and surgical treatment are expected to increase the survival of elderly patients with this malignancy.
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