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Ann Surg. 2006 Feb;243(2):229-35.

Early and late recurrence after liver resection for hepatocellular carcinoma: prognostic and therapeutic implications.

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Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy.



To evaluate the predictive factors, the therapy, and the prognosis of intrahepatic recurrence (IR) after surgery for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


The predictive factors of IR are debated. To class the recurrence according to the modality of presentation may help to find a correlation and to select the right therapy for the recurrence.


A total of 213 patients were evaluated. Risk factors for recurrence were related to time (<2 years and >2 years) and type of presentation (marginal, nodular, and diffuse). Prognosis and therapy for the recurrence were studied in each group of patients.


IR was observed in 143 patients; 109 were early (group 1) and 34 late recurrences (group 2). Cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis (CAH) and HCV positivity were independently related to the risk of recurrence with a cumulative effect (92.5% of recurrences in patients with 3 prognostic factors). For group 1, the neoplastic vascular infiltration together with cirrhosis, HCV positivity, CAH, and transaminases were significant; all the 11 patients with 5 negative prognostic factors showed an early recurrence. On the contrary, only cirrhosis was related to a late recurrence. Survival rate was significantly better in late than in early recurrence (61.9%, 27.1% and 25.7%, 4.5% at 3-5 years); a curative procedure was performed in 67.6% in group 1 and 29.3% in group 2. After a radical treatment of IR, the survival was comparable with the group of patients without recurrence.


Early and late recurrences are linked to different predictive factors. The modality of presentation of the recurrence together with the feasibility of a radical treatment are the best determinants for the prognosis.

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