Background: Fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma (FL-HCC) is a rare variant of hepatocellular carcinoma, has distinct pathologic features, and typically occurs in young patients without underlying hepatitis or cirrhosis.
Methods: Forty-one patients with the pathologic diagnosis of FL-HCC evaluated at our institution between 1986 and 2003 were identified from a prospective database.
Results: Median age of all patients was 27 years. None of these patients had underlying hepatitis or cirrhosis, and only 3 (7%) patients had an alpha-fetoprotein level > 200 ng/mL. Twenty-eight patients with primary disease underwent complete gross resection, and 13 patients were unresectable. In patients treated with resection, median tumor size was 9 cm (range, 3-17), 9 (36%) had vascular invasion, and 14 (50%) had lymph node metastases. There were no perioperative deaths. With a median follow-up of 34 months, 5-year overall survival for resected patients was 76%. However, 5-year recurrence-free survival was only 18%, and of the 9 resected patients with more than 5 years of follow-up, 7 had recurrences. Lymph node metastasis was the only significant negative prognostic factor. Seventeen (61%) patients underwent a second operation for recurrent disease. Median survival for unresected patients with FL-HCC was only 12 months, and no patient survived beyond 5 years.
Conclusions: FL-HCC occurs in a distinctly different population of patients than common HCC, and patients with FL-HCC generally fare better after complete resection. These tumors have a relatively indolent tumor biology, and late recurrences are common. Repeat resections for recurrence should be considered given the lack of other effective treatment options.
(c) 2006 American Cancer Society.