Objective: By comparing cohorts in 2 exclusive time frames, the factors that affected the surgical outcomes of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are presented.
Summary background data: Reportedly, survival results of patients with HCC who underwent hepatectomy have improved in recent years. However, the major factors contributing to these favorable outcomes have not been fully explained.
Methods: Between January 1985 and December 2000, 610 patients with HCC underwent liver resections as a primary and curative resection. They were categorized into 2 groups according to the year in which the surgeries were performed: before 1990 (n = 212; early group); and after 1991 (n = 398; late group). Clinicopathologic data, survival data, type of recurrence, and treatment of intrahepatic recurrence were compared between the 2 groups.
Results: Clinicopathologic data were almost identical between the groups except for age, blood loss, and duration of surgery. The overall survival rate was significantly better in the late group compared with the early group (58.0% vs. 39.1% at 5 years, P < 0.0001). By contrast, disease-free survival remained unchanged (27.8% vs. 26.2% at 5 years, P = 0.2887). The most common type of recurrence was intrahepatic relapse, and there was no difference in the rate and the type of recurrence between the 2 groups. The 5-year survival rate after recurrence was increased in the late group (21.8% vs. 11.6%, P = 0.0002). Stratified analysis by the type of initial recurrence revealed that better survival in the late group was achieved only in solitary intrahepatic recurrences, not in multiple intrahepatic or extrahepatic recurrences. Changes in modality of treatment of recurrence were observed only in the management of solitary intrahepatic recurrences, where percutaneous ablation therapies were more frequently applied with new ablation techniques. Patients that had undergone ablation therapies in the late group had better postrecurrent survival than those in the early group. Multivariate analysis showed that presence of local ablation therapies was an independent favorable prognostic factor only in the late group.
Conclusions: Significant improvements in outcomes were achieved in patients with HCC who underwent curative liver resections. Percutaneous ablation therapy for intrahepatic recurrence was considered to be a major contributory factor for improving survival after recurrence, as well as for overall survival.