Background: Oncological benefits of robotic gastrectomy (RG) remain unclear. We aimed to determine and compare the 3-year outcomes of RG and laparoscopic gastrectomy (LG) for the treatment of gastric cancer. Methods: This was a multi-institutional retrospective study of patients who prospectively underwent RG in a previous study (UMIN000015388) and historical controls who underwent LG. Operable patients with cStage I/II primary gastric cancer were enrolled. The inverse probability of treatment weighting method based on propensity scores was used to balance patient demographic factors and surgeon volume between the RG and LG groups. The primary outcome measure was the 3-year overall survival rate (3yOS). Results: Of the 1,127 patients in the previous study, 326 and 752 patients in the RG and LG groups, respectively, completed the study. The standardized difference of all confounding factors was reduced to 0.09 or less after weighting. In the weighted population, 3yOS was 96.3% and 89.6% in the RG and LG groups, respectively (hazard ratio [HR] 0.34 [0.15, 0.76]; p = 0.009), whereas there was no difference in 3-year recurrence-free survival rate (3yRFS) between the two groups (HR 0.58 [0.32, 1.05]; p = 0.073). Sub-analyses showed that RG improved 3yOS (HR 0.05 [0.01, 0.38]; p = 0.004) and 3yRFS (HR 0.05 [0.01, 0.34]; p = 0.003) in patients with pStage IA disease. Recurrence rates and patterns were similar between the RG and LG groups. RG did not improve the morbidity rate, however, it attenuated some of the adverse events, including anastomotic leakage and intra-abdominal abscess. RG improved estimated blood loss and duration of postoperative hospitalization. Conclusion: This study showed surgical and oncological safety of RG for cStage I/II gastric cancer considering the 3-year outcomes, compared with those of LG. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].
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