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World J Surg Oncol. 2014 Aug 2;12:246. doi: 10.1186/1477-7819-12-246.

Hepatocellular carcinoma: clinicopathological profile and challenges of management in a resource-limited setting.

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Department of Surgery, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences- Bugando, Bugando, P,O, Box 1464, Mwanza, Tanzania.



Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most common cancers worldwide and its incidence is reported to be increasing in resource-limited countries. There is a paucity of published data regarding hepatocellular carcinoma in Tanzania, and the study area in particular. This study describes the clinicopathological profile of hepatocellular carcinoma in our local setting and highlights the challenging problems in the management of this disease.


This was a retrospective study of histopathologically confirmed cases of hepatocellular carcinoma seen at Bugando Medical Center between March 2009 and February 2013.


A total of 142 patients (M: F = 2.2: 1) were studied representing 4.6% of all malignancies. The median age of patients was 45 years. Hepatitis B virus infection (66.2%) and heavy alcohol consumption (60.6%) were the most frequently identified risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma. The majority of patients (88.0%) presented late with advanced stages. HBsAg was positive in 66.2% of the patients and Hepatitis C Virus antibody in 16.9%. Thirteen (9.2%) patients tested positive for HIV infection. Most patients (52.8%) had both right and left lobe involvement. The trabecular pattern (47.9%) was the most frequent histopathological type. None of patients had curative therapy because of the advanced nature of the disease. Coagulopathy (45.7%) was the most common complications. The overall mortality rate was 46.5% and it was significantly associated with comorbidity, HIV positivity, CD4+ count <200 cells/μl, high histological grade, advanced stage of the tumor, presence of distant metastases at the time of diagnosis, and associated complications (P < 0.001). The overall median duration of hospital stay was 14 days. The majority of patients (71.1%) were lost to follow-up at the end of the follow-up period.


Hepatocellular carcinoma patients in this region are relatively young at diagnosis and the majority of them present late with an advanced stage and high rate of distant metastasis. Lack of awareness of the disease, poor accessibility to healthcare facilities, and lack of screening programs in this region may contribute to advanced disease at the time of diagnosis. There is a need for early detection, adequate treatment, and proper follow-up to improve treatment outcome.

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