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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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1
Department of Surgery and Transplantation, Surgical Unit, S. Orsola Hospital, University of Bologna, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

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

SUMMARY BACKGROUND DATA:

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

METHODS:

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.

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSIONS:

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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