Background: Emerging data suggest that the fibrolamellar variant of hepatocellular carcinoma (FL-HCC) differs in clinical course and prognosis from conventional (nonfibrolamellar) HCC (NFL-HCC). Although FL-HCC is believed to have a better prognosis than NFL-HCC, data comparing the prognoses of the two types of HCC remain lacking. The aim of this systematic review was to compare the prognosis of FL- vs. NFL-HCC.
Methods: Two of the authors independently conducted a comprehensive search of the Cochrane Library, PubMed, Scopus, and published proceedings from major hepatology and gastrointestinal meetings from January 1980 to October 2013. Outcomes of interest were mean overall survival (OS) and 5-year survival. The analyses were performed with a fixed- or random-effects model, as appropriate. The Begg's and Egger's tests with visual inspection of the funnel plot were used to assess for population bias. All analyses were performed with RevMan 5.1 (Cochrane IMS).
Results: Seventeen studies involving 368 patients with FL-HCC and 9877 patients with NFL-HCC were included in the analysis. There was an overall statistically significant increase in the 5-year survival for the FL-HCC vs. the NFL-HCC patients (RR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.38-3.16). In a subgroup analysis limited to noncirrhotic patients, there was no significant difference in 5-year survival in the FL-HCC group compared to that in the NFL-HCC group (RR, 1.69; 95% CI, 0.69-4.17). A significant increase in mean OS was reported in patients with FL-HCC compared with the survival time of those with NFL-HCC (84.9 ± 15.8 vs. 42.9 ± 6.5 months) undergoing partial hepatectomy, but there was no difference in patients undergoing liver transplantation (51.4 ± 14.4 vs. 47.5 ± 5.5 months).
Conclusion: Patients with FL-HCC treated with hepatic resection had significantly higher 5-year survival rates than did those with NFL-HCC. However, survival was similar for both FL-HCC and conventional HCC in noncirrhotic patients. There seems to be no difference in survival outcomes for FL- and NFL-HCC when transplantation is used as the therapeutic option.