The sentinel node (SN) concept has revolutionized the surgical staging of both melanoma and breast cancer over the past two decades. The application of this concept can yield benefits for patients by preventing various complications related to unnecessary prophylactic regional lymph node dissection in patients with cancer-negative SNs. Clinical application of SN mapping in patients with early gastric cancer has been a controversial issue for years. However, a recent meta-analysis and a prospective multicenter trial of SN mapping for early gastric cancer have shown acceptable SN detection rates and accuracy of determination of lymph node status. For early stage gastric cancer such as cT1N0M0, for which a better prognosis can be achieved through conventional surgical approaches, the establishment of individualized, minimally invasive treatments that may retain the patients' quality of life should be the next surgical challenge. Although there are many unresolved technical issues, laparoscopic SN biopsy with laparoscopic minimized gastrectomy or endoscopic mucosal resection/endoscopic submucosal dissection has the potential to achieve this goal.
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