Fibrolamellar carcinoma arises in noncirrhotic livers of young individuals and has been considered to be less aggressive than conventional hepatocellular carcinoma. This study compares survival and clinicopathologic features of fibrolamellar carcinoma with hepatocellular carcinoma arising in noncirrhotic and cirrhotic livers. Clinical and pathologic features including age, gender, tumor size, stage and survival were recorded in 20 resected cases of fibrolamellar carcinoma. Survival was compared with resected hepatocellular carcinoma without (n=32) and with cirrhosis (n=30). Proliferative activity was determined by immunohistochemistry for Ki-67. In all, 12 (60%) patients with fibrolamellar carcinoma died during follow-up; the 5-year survival was 45%. Mortality in fibrolamellar carcinoma was higher with metastatic disease at presentation (6/7, 86% vs 5/13, 39%, P=0.06). Age, gender and tumor size did not correlate with survival. The 5-year (45 vs 56%, P=0.4) as well as overall survival (40 vs 56.3%, P=0.3) was similar in fibrolamellar carcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma without cirrhosis. The 5-year and overall survival in hepatocellular carcinoma with cirrhosis was 27 and 23.3%, respectively, which was not significantly different compared to fibrolamellar carcinoma (P=0.2). Among the cases without metastases at presentation, 5-year survival in fibrolamellar carcinoma (62%) and hepatocellular carcinoma without cirrhosis (57%) was significantly better (P=0.03) than hepatocellular carcinoma with cirrhosis (27%). The mean Ki-67 index was similar in all three groups (P=0.1). In conclusion, fibrolamellar carcinoma is an aggressive neoplasm with 45% 5-year survival and overall mortality of 60%. Nearly half the patients develop lymph node or distant metastasis. The prognosis of fibrolamellar carcinoma is similar to conventional hepatocellular carcinoma. Among nonmetastatic cases, the prognosis is better in fibrolamellar carcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma without cirrhosis compared to hepatocellular carcinoma with cirrhosis. The better outcome in fibrolamellar carcinoma appears to be due to the absence of cirrhosis rather than its distinct clinicopathologic features.
Modern Pathology (2005) 18, 1417-1423. doi:10.1038/modpathol.3800449; published online 27 May 2005.