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Ann Surg. 2003 Apr;237(4):536-43.

Liver resection for hepatocellular carcinoma on cirrhosis: univariate and multivariate analysis of risk factors for intrahepatic recurrence.

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Department of Surgery and Transplantation, Surgical Unit, S. Orsola Hospital, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.



To evaluate prognostic factors that could affect disease-free survival and recurrence after liver resection for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) on cirrhosis.


Tumor recurrence is the main cause of poor survival after liver resection for HCC on cirrhosis.


Two hundred twenty-four liver resections for HCC on cirrhosis were retrospectively reviewed. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed on several clinicopathologic variables to analyze factors affecting long-term outcome and intrahepatic recurrence. The relation between preoperative aminotransferase level and recurrence rate was evaluated in the overall group, and separately in HCV-positive and in HBsAg-positive patients. Median follow-up was 35.6 months.


The 1-, 3-, and 5-year overall survival rates were 83%, 62.8%, and 42.5%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year disease-free survival rates were 70.3%, 43%, and 27.4%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year recurrence rates were 20.8%, 38.6%, and 54.4% respectively. Tumor recurrence appeared in 93 patients (41.5%) and was the main cause of death in 51 patients (56%). Number of nodules, tumor capsule, microvascular portal vein thrombosis, and preoperative serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST) level significantly affected disease-free survival and recurrence rates. On multivariate analysis, single nodules and preoperative AST level less than twice normal (2N) were related to a better 5-year disease-free survival and lower tumor recurrence. In particular, among HCV-positive patients the recurrence rate was strongly affected by the preoperative AST level.


Child A patients with single nodules are the best candidates for liver resection. Tumor recurrence is strictly linked to the status of the underlying liver disease, and a preoperative AST level equal to 2N seems to be a sensitive cutoff among patients with different risks of recurrence. HCV-positive patients with AST levels above 2N have the highest risk for intrahepatic recurrence and should be monitored carefully or offered alternative treatments.

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