Good surgery for gastric cancer can be summarized in the mnemonic “OPERATIONS”: Oncologic Principles, Good Exposure, Understanding Anatomy, Comprehensive Total Approach, Meticulous Lymph Node Dissection, and Patients’ Safety. Surgery is as much an art as a technique, and the surgeon’s philosophy is an important component of practice. The surgeon should see the surgery, first and foremost, as for the patient’s benefit and have the same concern and regard for the patient as for a family member. The patient with gastric cancer has only one chance to be cured by surgery. Often this requires innovation and the adaptation of new technology by the surgeon. However, innovations must always honor accepted oncologic principles and practices a nd be based on sound scientific rationale.
There are fundamental differences between surgery performed in patients with cancer and in patients with other benign conditions. Protocols based on oncological principles must be followed throughout surgical procedures on cancer patients to prevent contamination with, or dissemination of, the cancer cells. The fundamental goal of cancer surgery is complete surgical resection of tumor, en bloc lymph node dissection, and careful hemostasis. If this goal is not achieved, cancer cells can be disseminated through broken lymphatics and vessels. The extent of gastric resection should be decided upon based on the location of tumor in the stomach and the safety resection margin so that microscopic tumors are not left in remaining stomach. The “no-touch” technique should be used during the entire procedure. The no-touch technique entails wrapping the primary tumor. This is especially important in cases of serosa-positive gastric cancer, in which it is of utmost importance to prevent iatrogenic peritoneal seeding through the surgeon’s hands. Unnecessary manipulation and dissection should be avoided as mitogenic factors for wound healing could be produced in response to the surgery; these could stimulate the proliferation of undetected micrometastatic tumors that remained after surgery.