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Pathol Int. 1999 Oct;49(10):893-7.

Hepatocellular carcinoma with spontaneous regression of multiple lung metastases.

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Department of Pathology, Okayama Kyoritsu Hospital, Japan.


Spontaneously regressed lung metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in a 82-year-old Japanese man with liver cirrhosis was recorded. Multiple nodular lesions of both lungs, up to 1 cm across, were shown on chest X-ray when the clinical diagnosis of HCC was made because of the presence of a liver mass on abdominal computed tomography (CT) scan and high serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) value. The lung lesions which were regarded clinically as metastasis of HCC decreased in number and size 7 months later, and subsequently disappeared a further 7 months radiographically. However, the liver mass revealed no reduction on abdominal CT, despite normalization of the serum AFP value, and the patient died 7 months after the disappearance of the lung lesions. The patient refused biopsy for the liver mass and anticancerous treatment during the course of the disease. At autopsy, the liver mass, 13 cm in diameter, histologically featured moderately differentiated HCC. Only one metastasis, 0.5 cm across, was obvious in the left lower lung lobe. In addition, there were 14 minute lesions in both lungs, up to 0.2 cm across, including three with complete necrosis and 11 with histocytic reaction and fibrosis. The necrotic tissue was filled with large ghostly cells that appeared to be debris from a neoplastic tissue, regardless of no viable tumor cells among them. The clinical and autopsy findings highly suggested that the patient developed spontaneous regression of multiple lung metastases of HCC and subsequently left the very small lesions as the vestige. Thus, the histology of these lesions may exhibit a process of the regression as the sequence of events, i.e., a transition from necrosis of the metastatic HCC to its fibrosis. Presence of an effective factor(s) in relation to the regression was unclarified. There has been no reported cases with regression of the only metastasis of HCC in the literature to date.

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