Background: The prognosis for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) along with portal vein tumor thrombi (PVTT) is poor, and surgery has not been considered an option.
Aims: To compare the outcomes and the quality of life (QoL) of patients with HCC and PVTT who underwent hepatic resection and thrombectomy for tumor thrombi in the inferior vena cava and hepatic vein with total hepatic vascular exclusion to the patients who received only chemotherapy.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients who received hepatectomy and thrombectomy (n=65), and those who received only chemotherapy (n=50). The surgical outcomes, survival, and QoL that was determined using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Hepatobiliary instrument were analyzed and compared.
Results: Patients who underwent surgery had a median overall survival of 17 months, compared with patients who underwent chemotherapy for 8 months (P<0.0001). Patients who underwent surgery had a median recurrence-free survival of 14 months, as compared with patients who underwent chemotherapy for 7 months (P<0.0001). The probabilities of 1-year recurrence in the surgery and chemotherapy groups were 27.7 and 70%, respectively (P<0.0001). The QoL total score of the surgery group was significantly higher than that of the control group (P<0.0001). Surgery was slightly, though significantly more cost-effective than chemotherapy based on the quality-adjusted life years.
Conclusion: Hepatectomy and thrombectomy using the total hepatic vascular exclusion, is a viable surgical management for patients with HCC and PVTT, and is associated with longer overall survival and recurrence-free survival and better QoL than chemotherapy alone.