Background: Recurrence occurs in a variety of forms and in different organs after 'curative resection' of gastric cancer. This study investigated the postoperative prognosis for each type of recurrence. Methods: From 1969 to 1988, 939 patients with gastric cancer underwent curative resection; data on 130 of 207 patients who died with recurrence were analysed. Attention was focused on the site of recurrence and the postoperative outcome. Results: Haematogenous recurrence was evident in 54 per cent (70 of 130 patients), peritoneal recurrence in 43 per cent (56 of 130), lymph node recurrence in 12 per cent (16 of 130) and local recurrence in 22 per cent (29 of 130). Thirty-three patients (25 per cent) had recurrences at multiple sites. Peritoneal and local recurrences were related to infiltrative growth, in contrast to haematogenous and lymphatic recurrences. There were no statistical differences in survival time among each type of recurrence and survival was not related to the number of sites of recurrence. Survival did not depend on factors of sex, age, tumour location, tumour size, depth of invasion, tissue differentiation, histological growth pattern, lymphatic and vascular involvement, lymph node metastasis and extent of lymph node dissection. Conclusion: The clinicopathological characteristics of gastric cancer determine the type of recurrence, although the clinical outcome is the same for each type of tumour and is not related to the number of sites of recurrence.
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