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J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2004 Aug;19(8):859-65.

Optimal treatment strategy for elderly patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Internal Medicine, Okabe Hospital, 1-2-1 Myojinzaka, Umi-machi, Kasuya-gun, Fukuoka 811-2122, Japan.



The age distribution of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) now peaks at nearly 70 years in Japan and this is continually increasing. Whether such elderly patients with HCC aged 80 years or older should be treated, and if so, how they should be selected for treatment remains uncertain. The present study was undertaken to determine any differences in the clinical characteristics and prognostic features between patients with HCC aged 80 years or older and those younger than 80 years of age. We also aimed to identify any significant variables in the prognosis of elderly patients with HCC aged 80 years or older.


Seven hundred and four patients with HCC, diagnosed during a 12-year period from January 1989 to December 2000, were categorized into two groups as follows: (i) 36 patients aged 80 years or older at the detection of HCC were defined as the elderly group and; (ii) 668 patients younger than 80 years of age were placed in the non-elderly group. Clinical variables were analyzed and compared between the two groups, and any significant variables in the prognosis were simultaneously determined.


Regarding sex, viral markers, concentration of serum alpha-fetoprotein, diameter and number of tumors, Child's grade, presence of portal thrombosis, histology grade of HCC and any types of treatment, no significant difference was found between the two groups. The 1-year and 3-year survival rates in the elderly group (54.1 and 28.1%, respectively) were not significantly different from those in the non-elderly group (69.9 and 43.2%, respectively; P = 0.1053). The only significant factor in the prognosis in the elderly group was the presence of portal thrombosis, although a Child's grade of B or C was almost a significant factor with a P-value of 0.063. Tumor size measuring more than 3 cm in the greatest dimension, non-solitary tumor, Child's grade of B or C, and the presence of portal thrombosis were all found to be prognostic factors in the non-elderly group using a multivariate analysis.


An advanced stage of HCC, not advanced age, influenced the survival rate in these elderly patients. Therefore, an optimal treatment strategy should be applied for elderly patients with HCC who demonstrate less prognostic factors in the same manner as that for non-elderly patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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