Background: The pathologic TNM (pTNM) staging system was designed to aid in determining the prognosis of cancer patients and in planning and evaluating their treatment. The current pTNM classification system was not found to be predictive for patients undergoing orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTx) in the presence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Therefore, the authors examined the current system to determine whether improvements would allow the development of a more predictive system.
Methods: Three hundred seven patients with HCC underwent OLTx between 1981 and 1997. Risk factors for recurrence were identified using the Kaplan-Meier method with the log rank test. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to identify factors independently predictive of recurrence which were then used to create a new staging system.
Results: There was neither a direct correlation between the current pTNM system and tumor free survival nor homogeneity in outcomes for patients within certain current pTNM categories. Depth of vascular invasion, lobar distribution, lymph node status, and largest tumor size were found to be independent predictors of tumor free survival; tumor number was not found to be significant in multivariate analysis. A new staging system is proposed, which takes into account the results of the multivariate analysis in which tumor free survival correlates directly with stage.
Conclusions: The proposed staging system is superior to the current pTNM staging system in predicting tumor free survival following OLTx with HCC. Further studies will determine the appropriateness of this system for staging HCC after subtotal hepatic resection.
Copyright 2000 American Cancer Society.