A subset of patients can be identified who will survive without recurrence beyond 5 years after hepatic resection for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
A retrospective review of a multi-institutional database of 591 patients who had undergone hepatic resection for HCC and on-site reviews of clinical records and pathology slides.
All patients had been treated in academic referral centers within university-based hospitals.
We identified 145 patients who had survived for 5 years or longer after hepatic resection for HCC.
Main Outcome Measures
Clinical and pathologic factors, as well as scoring of hepatitis and fibrosis in the surrounding liver parenchyma, were assessed for possible association with survival beyond 5 years and cause of death among the 145 five-year survivors.
Median additional survival duration longer than 5 years was 4.1 years. Women had significantly longer median additional survival durations than did men (81 months vs 38 months, respectively, after the 5-year mark) (P = .008). Surgical margins, type of resection, an elevated preoperative α-fetoprotein level, and the presence of multiple tumors or microscopic vascular invasion had no bearing on survival longer than 5 years. However, patients who survived for 5 years who also had normal underlying liver or minimal fibrosis (score, 0-2) at surgery had significantly longer additional survival than did patients with moderate fibrosis (score, 3-4) or severe fibrosis/cirrhosis (score, 5-6) (P<.001).
Death caused by HCC is rare beyond 5 years after resection of HCC in the absence of fibrosis or cirrhosis. The data suggest that chronic liver disease acts as a field of cancerization contributing to new HCC. These patients may benefit from therapies directed at the underlying liver disease.