Validation and Potential of Albumin-Bilirubin Grade and Prognostication in a Nationwide Survey of 46,681 Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients in Japan: The Need for a More Detailed Evaluation of Hepatic Function

Liver Cancer. 2017 Nov;6(4):325-336. doi: 10.1159/000479984. Epub 2017 Sep 22.


Background/aim: Recently, albumin-bilirubin (ALBI) scoring/grading, consisting of only albumin and total bilirubin, has been proposed. We examined the efficacy of this grading system for determining hepatic function in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods/materials: The prognoses of 46,681 HCC patients based on results obtained from a nationwide survey conducted in Japan from 2001 to 2007 were evaluated using (1) Japan Integrated Staging (JIS), consisting of Child-Pugh classification and TNM staging (TNM), (2) modified JIS (m-JIS), consisting of liver damage grading and TNM, and (3) ALBI-TNM (ALBI-T), consisting of ALBI grading and TNM, and the results were compared. A subanalysis was also performed to define a cutoff value for ALBI scores for a more detailed stratification of hepatic function.

Results: ALBI-T, JIS, and m-JIS each showed good capacity for the stratification of prognoses. Although the Akaike information criterion for ALBI-T was nearly equal to that for JIS and m-JIS, the Kaplan-Meier curves and median survival times obtained with ALBI-T were always superior to the corresponding scores. When the indocyanine green retention test (<30%) was used as an additional cutoff value for ALBI score (-2.270, area under the curve 0.828) to divide ALBI grade into 4 levels (modified ALBI [mALBI] grade), mALBI grade was able to stratify the prognosis of patients at any TNM stage in order of grade. Modified ALBI-T (mALBI-T), using mALBI grading and TNM, produced a more detailed stratification for prognosis.

Conclusion: The predictive value for prognosis of ALBI-T was found to be equal to that of JIS and m-JIS. In addition, mALBI grading and mALBI-T, as proposed in the present study, might provide a more detailed assessment of the hepatic function and prognosis of HCC patients.

Keywords: Albumin-bilirubin grade; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Japan Integrated Staging; Modified albumin-bilirubin grade; Prognosis; TNM stage.