Des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin as a useful predisposing factor for the development of portal venous invasion in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma: a prospective analysis of 227 patients

Cancer. 2001 Feb 1;91(3):561-9. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20010201)91:3<561::aid-cncr1035>;2-n.


Background: Portal venous invasion (PVI) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an important factor affecting prognosis. The objective of this study was to elucidate predisposing factors for the development of PVI.

Methods: Two hundred twenty-seven patients with HCC who did not show PVI and who received percutaneous ethanol injection therapy and/or microwave coagulation therapy at the time of their first hospital admission were enrolled between 1994 and 1996. After their HCC was treated, the patients were followed for a mean of 19 months. For the detection of HCC recurrence and/or development of PVI, ultrasonography was performed every 3 months, a computed tomography (CT) scan was performed every 6 months, and the biochemical parameters of the patients were measured every month. PVI was defined as protrusion of the tumor into the first and/or second branch or into the main trunk of the portal vein.

Results: Of the 227 patients, 24 (11%) later developed PVI. Tabular analysis was performed on these 24 patients and indicated that tumor size, albumin, total bilirubin, prothrombin time, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) level, and des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) level differed significantly between the time of initial admission and the time of PVI development. A univariate analysis performed on the 227 patients indicated that an increase in the numbers of tumors, the histologic tumor grade (differentiation), the AFP level, and the DCP level at the time of initial diagnosis of HCC had a significant correlation with the later development of PVI; and a stepwise, multivariate Cox regression analysis revealed that the DCP level was the strongest predisposing factor (P < 0.0010; risk ratio = 5.65) followed by the histologic grade of tumor differentiation.

Conclusions: The results suggest that the serum DCP level is the most useful predisposing clinical parameter for the development of PVI.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / secondary*
  • Causality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Portal Vein*
  • Prognosis
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism*
  • Prothrombin / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Protein Precursors
  • acarboxyprothrombin
  • Prothrombin