Aim: Several studies have reported that insulin resistance raises the risk of primary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We conducted a prospective, case series study to test the impact of insulin resistance on the recurrence after curative radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of stage I HCC in HCV-positive patients.
Methods: From January 2006 to December 2007, 226 consecutive patients underwent treatment for primary HCC at our institutions, including 37 stage I cases. Among them, 33 were HCV-positive, and three, six and 24 received curative surgery, transarterial chemoembolization or RFA, respectively. In the 24 patients treated with RFA, recurrence-free survival was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method. The factors contributing to recurrence of HCC were subjected to univariate and multivariate analyses using the Cox proportional hazards model. Insulin resistance was estimated by the Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR).
Results: Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that the recurrence-free survival was lower in patients with higher HOMA-IR (>2.3, P = 0.0252) or with lower serum albumin level (<3.3 g/dL, P = 0.0004). In the univariate analysis, HOMA-IR (P = 0.0420) and albumin (P = 0.0036) were significantly associated with recurrence of HCC. Multivariate analysis revealed albumin (odds ratio = 0.01, 95% confidence interval = 0.0002-0.015, P = 0.0001) and HOMA-IR (odds ratio = 3.85, 95% confidence interval = 1.57-14.2, P = 0.0015) to be independent predictors for recurrence of HCC.
Conclusion: Serum albumin level and HOMA-IR were independent risk factors for recurrence of stage I HCC after curative RFA in HCV-positive patients. Patients with these factors require closer surveillance.