Treatment and outcomes of recurrent hepatocellular carcinomas

Langenbecks Arch Surg. 2017 Aug;402(5):737-744. doi: 10.1007/s00423-017-1582-9. Epub 2017 May 11.


Purpose: Surgery is one of the best options for curative treatment of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC). Recurrences are nevertheless common (45-75%). This study aimed to compare overall survival (OS) of patients with recurrent HCC after primary resection to OS of patients without recurrence.

Methods: A retrospective review of all HCC patients operated between 1993 and 2015 was performed. Median and 5-year OS were calculated.

Results: This study included 147 HCC patients. Sixty-seven patients presented a recurrence (46%). Patients with recurrence had a worse prognosis than those without recurrence (median OS 63 vs. 82 months, 5-year OS 47 vs. 54%, p = 0.036). First-line performed treatments were radiofrequency ablation (18, RFA), chemo-embolization (16, TACE), repeat hepatectomy (10), systemic chemotherapy (4), radio-embolization (1), and alcoholization (1). Palliative care was performed in 17 patients. Median OS of patients treated by RFA, TACE, or repeat hepatectomy were similar (77, 71, and 84 months, p = 0.735). Patients treated with chemotherapy/palliative care had lower median OS compared to interventional treatments (20 vs. 77 months, p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Recurrence after surgical HCC resection is frequent and negatively impacts OS. Interventional treatments of recurrences offered improved outcomes compared to medical care. In selected patients, RFA, TACE, and repeat hepatectomy allowed similar OS as non-recurrent cases.

Keywords: Hepatic surgery; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver; Oncologic treatments; Recurrence.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Female
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome