Natural history of minute hepatocellular carcinoma smaller than three centimeters complicating cirrhosis. A study in 22 patients

Gastroenterology. 1986 Feb;90(2):289-98. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(86)90923-6.


Twenty-two patients with cirrhosis and minute hepatocellular carcinoma less than 3 cm in diameter were followed for periods of 6-37 mo without specific treatment. The survival curve drawn by the Kaplan-Meier method showed a 1-yr survival of 90.7%, a 2-yr survival of 55.0%, and a 3-yr survival of 12.8%. The ultrasonic patterns of these masses in the liver were correlated with the size and showed a tendency to change from a low echo pattern to a low periphery and, finally, to a massive pattern. The growth speed calculated from the doubling time for tumor volume varied considerably from case to case with an average of 6.5 +/- 5.7 mo; it also changed in some cases during the observation period. Serum alpha-fetoprotein levels were generally low, rarely assisted in diagnosis, but tended to increase when the mass attained a diameter of greater than 3 cm; sudden acceleration in the rate of increase in alpha-fetoprotein level often coincided with a change of ultrasonic pattern to the massive one.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / complications
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Time Factors
  • Ultrasonography
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / analysis


  • alpha-Fetoproteins