Hypothesis: For gastric and pancreatic cancer, regional lymph node evaluation is important to accurately stage disease in a patient and may be associated with improved survival. We hypothesized that National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated institutions, and high-volume hospitals examine more lymph nodes for gastric and pancreatic malignant neoplasms than do low-volume centers and community hospitals. Design: Volume-outcome study. Setting: Academic research. Patients: Using the National Cancer Data Base (January 1, 2003, to December 31, 2004), patients were identified who underwent resection for gastric (n=3088) and pancreatic (n=1130 [pancreaticoduodenectomy only]) cancer. Main Outcome Measures: Multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to assess the effect of hospital type and volume on nodal evaluation (≥15 nodes). Results: Only 23.2% of patients with gastric cancer and 16.4% of patients with pancreatic cancer in the United States underwent evaluation of at least 15 lymph nodes. Patients undergoing surgery had more lymph nodes examined at NCCN-NCI hospitals than at community hospitals (median, 12 vs 6 for gastric cancer and 9 vs 6 for pancreatic cancer; P<.001). Patients at highest-volume hospitals had more lymph nodes examined than patients at low-volume hospitals (median, 10 vs 6 for gastric cancer and 8 vs 6 for pancreatic cancer; P<.001). On multivariable analysis, patients undergoing surgery at NCCN-NCI and high-volume hospitals were more likely to have at least 15 lymph nodes evaluated compared with patients undergoing surgery at community hospitals and low-volume centers (P<.001 and P=.02, respectively). Conclusions: Nodal examination is important for staging, adjuvant therapy decision making, and clinical trial stratification. Moreover, differences in nodal evaluation may contribute to improved long-term outcomes at NCCN-NCI centers and high-volume hospitals for patients with gastric and pancreatic cancer.
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