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Ann Surg. 2001 Jul;234(1):63-70.

Improving survival results after resection of hepatocellular carcinoma: a prospective study of 377 patients over 10 years.

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Centre for the Study of Liver Disease, Department of Surgery, University of Hong Kong Medical Center, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong, China.



To investigate whether the survival results after resection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have improved within the past decade by an analysis of a prospective cohort of patients over a 10-year period.


The surgical death rate after resection of HCC has greatly improved in recent years, but the long-term prognosis remains unsatisfactory. It remains unknown whether the survival results after resection of HCC have improved within the past decade.


The clinicopathologic and follow-up data of 377 patients who underwent curative resection of HCC between January 1989 and January 1999 were prospectively collected. These patients were categorized according to two time periods: before 1994 (group 1, n = 136) and after 1994 (group 2, n = 241). The two groups were compared for clinicopathologic data and survival results. The prognostic factors for disease-free survival were further analyzed to identify the factors that might have led to improved survival outcomes.


The overall and disease-free survival results were significantly better in group 2 compared with group 1. Patients in group 2 had significantly higher proportions of subclinical presentation, small tumors, and tumors of early pTNM stage. There were also significantly lower frequencies of histologic margin involvement, less intraoperative blood loss, and a lower transfusion rate in group 2. By multivariate analysis, early pTNM stage, subclinical HCC, and no perioperative transfusion were independent favorable prognostic factors for disease-free survival.


Significant improvement of overall and disease-free survival results after resection of HCC has been achieved within the past decade as a result of advances in the diagnosis and surgical management of HCC. Earlier diagnosis of HCC by better imaging modalities, increased detection of subclinical HCC by screening of high-risk patients, and a reduced perioperative transfusion rate were identified as the major contributory factors for the improved outcomes.

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