Background and Study Aims: To date, the accepted criteria for endoscopic resection of early gastric cancer have been: a) elevated-type mucosal cancer less than 2 cm in size, and b) depressed-type mucosal cancer without ulceration less than 1 cm in size. In this study, we attempted to expand these indications. Patients and Methods: Sixty patients with early gastric cancer who did not meet the above criteria underwent endoscopic treatment, and were divided into four groups: those with elevated tumours larger than 2 cm with submucosal invasion (group 1a); those without submucosal invasion (group 1b); those with depressed tumours larger than 1 cm (group 2); and those with ulcerated tumours (group 3). The patients were treated with endoscopic resection using a two-channel scope, followed by additional laser irradiation or heater-probe coagulation (combination therapy) if residual cells were found. Follow-up was by endoscopy and biopsy for more than two years. Results: Endoscopic treatment was effective in 87% of the patients (52 of 60), half of whom required combination therapy. In submucosal cancers, endoscopic treatment was effective in 76% of patients (13 of 17). However, tumours with deep invasion into the submucosa could not be cured. Mucosal cancers larger than 20 mm could be completely resected in 44% of patients (eight of 18) using endoscopic resection, but all five patients with tumours larger than 30 mm had incomplete resections. Conclusions: These results indicate that complete resection using endoscopic resection alone is possible in early gastric cancers measuring up to 30 mm in diameter. Tumours larger than 30 mm, and those with deep submucosal invasion, cannot be curatively treated by the current endoscopic modalities.
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