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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2012 Nov;199(5):1018-25. doi: 10.2214/AJR.12.8632.

MRI detection of intratumoral fat in hepatocellular carcinoma: potential biomarker for a more favorable prognosis.

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  • 1Department of Radiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, 757 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine whether the presence of intratumoral fat in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) could serve as an imaging biomarker to predict a favorable prognosis.


After a search of the radiology and pathology databases from January 2002 to December 2010, a cohort of patients with fat-containing HCC imaged by chemical-shift MRI techniques was matched with a cohort of patients with nonfat-containing HCC for TNM stage and type of subsequent treatment. The number and type of tumor progression, time to tumor progression (TTP), and overall survival (OS) were determined for each cohort.


There were 46 patients included in each cohort. Tumor progression was more prevalent in the non-fat-containing HCC cohort (30 patients, 65.2%) compared with the fat-containing HCC cohort (16 patients, 34.7%; p = 0.001). Distant metastasis occurred more commonly in the non-fat-containing HCC cohort (10 patient, 21.7%) compared with the fat-containing HCC cohort (two patients, 4.3%; p = 0.039). The median TTP was significantly longer in the fat-containing HCC group (52 months) compared with the non-fat-containing HCC group (27 months; p = 0.037). The significantly longer TTP was primarily observed in the locoregional treatment subgroup (p = 0.028). No statistical significance in OS and subanalysis by treatment was observed (p = 0.63-0.81).


Fat-containing HCC, imaged on an MRI unit, may predict a more favorable prognosis compared with nonfat-containing HCC.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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