Significant impact of patient age on outcome after liver resection for HCC in cirrhosis

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2014 Feb;40(2):208-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2013.10.018. Epub 2013 Nov 5.


Objective: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignant tumors worldwide. The majority of patients with HCC have cirrhosis. Beside liver transplantation the resection is an established curative treatment option for patients with HCC in cirrhosis. However, the long term success is limited by a high tumor recurrence rate. Furthermore, by many patients surgical resection is restricted by poor liver function. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of patient age on long term outcome after liver resection in patients with HCC in cirrhotic liver. Further purpose was to define the potential prognostic factors.

Patients and methods: The outcome of 141 patients with liver cirrhosis after curative resection was analyzed using a prospective database. Only patients with postoperative histological assurance of HCC were included in the database. Patients with fibrolamellar HCC were excluded.

Results: By patients below 70 years of age the 1-, 3- and 5-year survival rates were 78.5%, 56.5% and 47.1%. By patients over 70 years the 1-, 3- and 5-year survival rates were 59.9%, 40.3% and 6.7%. Cumulative survival of the total collective was significant influenced by patient age, Clavien grade, positive lymph vessels, mechanical ventilation and BMI. The overall postoperative morbidity was 44.7%. No intraoperative deaths were observed, but 11 patients (8 older than 70 and 3 younger than 70 years) died during the hospital stay. Clavien grade correlated with preoperative increased GGT, need for intraoperative blood and fresh frozen plasma transfusion.

Conclusions: Patient age and postoperative complications are more relevant for the outcome than many tumor factors, especially by patients over 70 years of age. In contrast, the prognosis of patients below 70 years of age is significantly better and a 5 year survival rate above 50% could be shown in our patients. However, by carefully selected elderly patients with HCC in cirrhosis an acceptable long term survival is reachable.

Keywords: Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver cirrhosis; Liver surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / complications
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Liver Neoplasms / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome