The critical issue of hepatocellular carcinoma prognostic classification: which is the best tool available?

J Hepatol. 2004 Jan;40(1):124-31. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2003.09.027.


Background/aims: Prognosis assessment in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains controversial. The most widely used HCC prognostic tool is the Okuda classification, but new staging systems (Cancer of the Liver Italian Program score, Chinese University Prognostic Index, French classification and Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer, BCLC, staging) have been recently described. We investigated the value of known prognostic systems in the particular setting of a surgically oriented Liver Unit where 187 HCC Italian patients were mainly treated with radical therapies (resection and percutaneous ablation).

Methods: A retrospective analysis of 187 HCCs observed at a single Institution from 1990 and 1999 was performed. By using survival time as the only outcome measure (Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression), the performance of any prognostic system was assessed according the criteria of discriminatory and stratification abilities between different stages, homogeneity of survival within each stage and additional explanatory power respect to the other classifications.

Results: In the particular cohort studied, BCLC proved the best HCC prognostic system. This was true for the whole study group and for the 2 subgroups of surgical and non-surgical patients.

Conclusions: BCLC staging showed the best interpretation of the survival distribution in an HCC population comprising a large proportion of tumors treated with potentially radical therapies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis