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Int J Hepatol. 2011;2011:241652. doi: 10.4061/2011/241652. Epub 2011 Jun 8.

Assessment of stromal invasion for correct histological diagnosis of early hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Teikyo University, 2-11-1 Kaga, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-8605, Japan.


Stromal invasion (invasive growth of tumor tissue into portal tracts and fibrous septa) is now recognized as the most important finding in the diagnosis of the well-differentiated type of early hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). In differentiating stromal invasion from pseudoinvasion (benign hepatic tissue in fibrous stroma), the following 5 items are useful: (1) macroscopic or panoramic views of the histological specimen, (2) the amount of fibrous components of stroma, (3) destruction of the structure of portal tracts, (4) loss of reticulin fibers around cancer cells, and (5) cytokeratin 7 immunostaining for ductular proliferation. Knowledge of stromal invasion is also useful for a better understanding of the vasculature (hypovascular HCCs) and histological features (fatty change) of early HCCs. Invasion of preexisting arteries and portal veins causes hypo-vascularity of HCCs. Further, hypovascularity causes fatty change as a hypoxic change of cancer tissues.

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