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Ann Surg. 1990 Jan;211(1):28-33.

Postoperative recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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First Surgical Department, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Sixty-nine patients with hepatocellular carcinoma underwent curative hepatic resections as primary cases from 1981 to 1986. Seven patients died in the hospital after operation. The other 62 patients left the hospital and were closely followed for 25 to 78 months. Recurrence of carcinoma became obvious in 41 (66%) of 62 patients. The clinical and pathologic features of these 41 patients were not significantly different from those of the other patients. Recurrent tumors were found in the residual liver in 38 patients (93%), in the bone in 2 (5%), and in the lung in 1 (2%). Recurrence was diagnosed within 1 year, between 1 and 2 years, and more than 2 years after the operation in 22 (56%), 10 (26%), and 7 (18%) patients, respectively. It was difficult to determine the exact time of recurrence in two patients. There was a significant negative correlation between the size of primary tumor and time until recurrence; the larger the primary tumor, the shorter the time until recurrence. Among the 29 patients who underwent local excisions for their primary tumors, 19 recurrences were observed. Eighteen were found in the residual liver, in the same segment as the primary tumor, or in one near it. Larger hepatic resection for primary tumors is thus advocated to prevent recurrence.

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