One hundred and ninety five consecutive, potentially curative resections for adenocarcinoma of the stomach were performed in one surgical department between 1970 and 1989: 76 patients underwent gastrectomy with splenectomy and 119 gastrectomy without splenectomy. Operative mortality was 12% after gastrectomy with splenectomy, but only 2.5% after gastrectomy without splenectomy (p < 0.05). Postoperative complications were also significantly more common when splenectomy was combined with gastrectomy (41% v 14%, p < 0.01). Cumulative five year survival was 45% after gastrectomy with splenectomy, compared with 71% after gastrectomy alone (p < 0.01). When the results of the two groups of patients were compared, stage for pathological stage, no evidence was found that splenectomy improved survival. Application of Cox's proportional hazards model, which makes allowance for other variables such as the T and N stages, showed that splenectomy had an adverse influence on patients' survival. Splenectomy does not benefit the patient and its routine use in the course of radical resections for carcinoma of the stomach should be abandoned.
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