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Systematic hepatectomy for small hepatocellular carcinoma in Korea.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Seoul National University, 28 Yongon-dong, Chongno-gu, Seoul 110-744, Korea.



Systematic hepatectomy for small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a widely preferred modality, but evidence concerning its benefits is lacking. The aim of this study was to document hepatic resection for small HCC in Korea, and to determine whether patient survival or the pattern of tumor recurrence was influenced by the methods used.


Ten major hospitals that perform hepatectomy for HCC in Korea were surveyed for surgeons' opinions concerning systematic hepatectomy and current trends in hepatic resection for small HCC. An analysis was also performed of 119 patients who underwent curative hepatectomy for small HCC (size < 5 cm) between January 2000 and December 2002 at Seoul National University Hospital. Seventy-four of these 119 patients underwent anatomical resection (AR) and 45 had a non-anatomical resection (NAR). Recurrence-free survival, recurrence pattern, overall survival rates, and the risk factors for recurrence were analyzed.


In the survey, eight of ten surgeons preferred systematic hepatectomy and considered it to aid prognosis. No significant difference was found between the AR and NAR groups in terms of the clinicopathologic findings, except that the presence of underlying hepatic cirrhosis was more prevalent in the NAR group. The postoperative morbidity rate was higher in the NAR group (33.3% vs 27.0%), but this difference was not statistically significant. The respective 1- and 3-year recurrence-free survival rates were 78.1% and 49.7% in the AR group, and 68.9% and 46.5% in the NAR group (P > 0.05). The corresponding 1- and 3-year overall survival rates were 88.8% and 80.8% in the AR group and 91.0% and 71.4% in the NAR group (P > 0.05).


Although systematic hepatectomy seems to be superior to non-anatomical hepatectomy from the oncological and anatomical aspects, this superiority is not reflected by the recurrence patterns or the survival and recurrence rates of the two procedures. Postoperative recurrence appears, rather, to be related to the underlying liver condition.

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