Research Papers:

Clinicopathologic and prognostic characteristics of alpha-fetoprotein–producing gastric cancer

Ruji He, Qinyi Yang, Xuqiang Dong, Yao Wang, Weiming Zhang, Lizong Shen _ and Zhihong Zhang

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:23817-23830. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15909

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Ruji He1,*, Qinyi Yang2,*, Xuqiang Dong1, Yao Wang1, Weiming Zhang2, Lizong Shen1, Zhihong Zhang2

1Division of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Department of General Surgery, First Affiliated Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210029, China

2Department of Pathology, First Affiliated Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing 210029, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Lizong Shen, email: [email protected]

Zhihong Zhang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: alpha-fetoprotein–producing gastric cancer, prognosis, risk factor, overall survival

Received: December 10, 2016     Accepted: February 07, 2017     Published: March 06, 2017


Alpha-fetoprotein–producing gastric cancer (AFPGC) accounts for 1.5%–7.1% of all gastric cancer cases. Compared with other types of gastric cancer, AFPGC is more aggressive and prone to liver and lymph node (LN) metastasis, with extremely poor prognosis. To improve understanding of AFPGC we reviewed a consecutive series of 82 AFPGC patients and investigated the prognostic factors. The incidence of AFPGC among our gastric cancer patients was 1.95%, and 29.27% of AFPGCs were diagnosed with metastasis at the time of presentation, mainly liver metastasis. The serum AFP level of patients with AFPGC was significantly associated with tumor differentiation. Histologically, these AFPGC patients were composed of 34.55% hapatiod type, 58.18% fetal gastrointestinal type, 9.09% yolk sac tumor-like type, and 14.55% mixed type. Patient gender, tumor differentiation, Lauren classification, and number of metastatic lymph nodes showed significant differences among these four subtypes. The overall survival time was 42.02 months and the 3-year cumulative survival rate was 53.13%. Age, American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM staging classification (TNM stage), serum AFP level, and surgery were prognostic factors for overall survival; however, TNM stage was the only independent risk factor for prognosis of AFPGC. In short, AFPGC is a rare, unique, and heterogeneous entity, and its proper identification and treatment remain a challenge. More attention should be paid to AFPGC to improve patient care and the dismal prognosis.

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