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Liver Transpl. 2004 Feb;10(2 Suppl 1):S39-45.

Hepatectomy for hepatocellular carcinoma: patient selection and postoperative outcome.

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Centre for the Study of Liver Disease and Department of Surgery, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China.


Hepatic resection and liver transplantation are considered the only curative treatments for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Liver transplantation for HCCs < or =5 cm in diameter has been shown to produce favorable survival results, but its application is limited by the lack of donors. Hepatic resection remains the treatment of choice for patients who are not transplantation candidates because of large tumor, macroscopic vascular invasion, or advanced age. For small HCCs associated with Child's A cirrhosis, hepatic resection should still be considered the first-line treatment, but salvage transplantation for intrahepatic recurrence may be a feasible strategy. Recent improvement in surgical techniques and perioperative care has increased the safety and expanded the indication of hepatic resection for HCC to include large tumors that require extended hepatectomy in cirrhotic patients. Selection of appropriate candidates for hepatectomy depends on careful assessment of the tumor status and liver function reserve. Evaluation of the general fitness of patients is also critical because comorbid illness is an important cause of postoperative mortality, even if the patients have good liver function reserve. With careful patient selection and surgical expertise, the current operative mortality of hepatectomy for HCC is about 5% or less in major centers. Improved long-term survival results after resection of HCC have also been reported recently, with an overall 5-year survival rate of about 50%. The improved perioperative and long-term survival results have strengthened the role of hepatectomy as the mainstay of treatment for HCC despite the availability of a number of other treatment options for localized HCC.

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