Background: Perforation is a rare complication of gastric carcinoma, accounting for less than 1% of all gastric cancer cases. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the prognostic value of perforation and to point out the surgical treatment options. Methods: A total of 10 patients with perforated gastric carcinoma were retrospectively reviewed among 2564 consecutive cases of gastric cancer operated in three Centers belonging to the Italian Research Group for Gastric Cancer. The clinicopathological features including tumor stage and survival were analyzed and compared to literature data. Results: Incidence rate was 0.39%. All patients underwent emergency surgery, being performed gastrectomy in 6 patients (mortality 17%) and repair surgery in 4 patients (mortality 75%). The survival of patients was related to the stage of the disease, with 2 long-survival cases. Conclusion: Perforation usually occurs in advanced stages of gastric cancer; nevertheless surgeons should not be always discouraged from a radical treatment of perforated gastric cancer, since perforation even occurs in early stages and seems not to be a negative prognostic factor itself. When possible, emergency gastrectomy should be performed, leaving repair surgery for unresectable tumors. A two-stage treatment is a good treatment option for frail patients with resectable tumors.
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