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Jpn J Clin Oncol. 2011 Apr;41(4):447-54. doi: 10.1093/jjco/hyr016. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Surgical treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Department of Digestive Surgery, Nihon University School of Medicine, Oyaguchikami-machi, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-8610, Japan.


Surgery is the most important therapeutic approach for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. We have reviewed patients' survival after resection for hepatocellular carcinoma in 17 series since 2000, each including more than 100 patients. Median survival rates were 80% (range 63-97%) at 1 year, 70% (34-78%) at 3 years and 50% (17-69%) at 5 years. Such wide ranges of survival rates are attributed mainly to differences in the hepatocellular carcinoma stage among studies, but the survival rate is obviously much better for early hepatocellular carcinomas. Today, liver resection is an established treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma owing to minimal surgical mortality and improved survival. Liver transplantation is one of the best treatments for hepatocellular carcinoma in patients who meet the selection criteria. Further studies are needed to establish suitable criteria for transplantation in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. For patients who are not candidates for liver resection or transplantation, percutaneous ablation is the best treatment option. However, no randomized controlled clinical trial has compared the results of ablation with those of surgical therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma, and none of the ablation techniques have been shown to offer a definitive survival advantage. A treatment algorithm based on published evidence is now available, which helps us to select the most suitable therapeutic option for individual patients, depending on tumor characteristics and liver functional reserve. This review paper summarizes the current status of the surgical management of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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