The feasibility and diagnostic reliability of sentinel node (SN) biopsy for gastric cancer are still controversial. We studied the clinicopathological features and localization of solitary lymph node metastasis (SLM) in gastric cancer to provide useful information for use of the SN concept in gastric cancer. From 2000 to 2004, 3,267 patients with gastric cancer underwent D2 radical gastrectomy. The clinicopathological features of 195 patients with histologically proven SLM and the distribution of metastasized nodes were assessed. The incidence of SLM was 6.0% in all cases. Compared with the node-negative patients, significant differences were observed in age, tumor size, depth of invasion, and surgical type. The cumulative 5-year survival rate of patients with SLM was 80.5%, which was significantly lower than 90.2% for node-negative patients (P∈<∈0.001). Of patients with SLM, 82.6% had it in the perigastric node area (N1), and the other 17.4% patients had skip metastasis in the N2-N3 nodes. Perigastric nodes were the most common first sites of drainage from the tumor, making them the main targets of the operative SN mapping procedure. Due to the higher than expected incidence of skip metastasis in gastric cancer, D2 lymphadenectomy should be performed until the reliability of SN navigation surgery is validated in multicenter prospective clinical trials.
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