Background and Objectives The impact of postoperative complications on long-term outcome has been reported in several types of malignancies. However, it is unclear why postoperative complications affect long-term outcome. The aim of this study is evaluating whether postoperative complication occurrence or C-reactive protein (CRP) elevation better reflects long-term outcome in gastric cancer patients. Methods This study included 305 patients who underwent curative surgery for pT2-T4b gastric cancer. Patients were divided into two groups based on the peak CRP value (CRPmax): low (<12 mg/dl) and high CRPmax (≥12 mg/dl). A multivariate analysis was conducted to identify independent prognostic factors for recurrence-free survival (RFS). Results Postoperative complications (≥Grade II) occurred in 86 of 305 patients (28.2%). Although CRP elevation (P = 0.001) and postoperative complication occurrence (P = 0.045) was each significantly associated with RFS in the univariate analysis, multivariate analysis identified CRP elevation (P = 0.017) but not complication occurrence (P = 0.682) as an independent prognostic factor. Among patients without complications, those in the high CRPmax group had significantly worse RFS than those in the low CRPmax group (P = 0.004). Conclusions CRP elevation is a more reliable indicator of survival after gastric cancer surgery than postoperative complication occurrence. Surgeons should minimize the postoperative inflammatory response to improve prognosis.
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