Background/aims: To study the impact of hepatitis B e antigen on tumor recurrence and patients' survival after curative resection of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Methods: Two hundred and three patients with small hepatocellular carcinomas (3cm) who had undergone curative resection were divided into HBeAg-positive group and HBeAg-negative group. Clinicopathological factors and postoperative outcomes were compared between groups, and risk factors for survival and recurrence were studied.
Results: The median follow-up time was 32.9months. Patients with negative HBeAg had higher 5-year overall survival rates (76% vs 53.9%, hazards ratio (HR): 2.363, 95% CI: 1.335-4.181, p=0.002) and 5-year disease-free survival rates (52.9% vs 37.4%, HR: 1.603, 95% CI: 1.00-2.561, p=0.046). There was no significant difference in operative morbidity and tumor factors between the two groups, but younger age, higher serum alanine aminotransferase levels, and more macronodular cirrhosis were found in the HBeAg-positive group. Multivariate analysis revealed that age >50years, HBeAg positivity and macronodular cirrhosis were independent factors for overall survival, and HBeAg positivity and multiple tumor nodules were independent factors for disease-free survival. Positive serum HBeAg was associated with a higher risk of early recurrence (within 1year).
Conclusions: HBeAg is associated with a higher risk of early recurrence and poorer survival in patients after curative resection of small HCC.