Hepatectomy is Beneficial in Select Patients with Multiple Hepatocellular Carcinomas

Ann Surg Oncol. 2022 Dec;29(13):8436-8445. doi: 10.1245/s10434-022-12495-z. Epub 2022 Sep 13.


Background: A single hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a good indication for hepatic resection regardless of tumor size, but the surgical indications for cases with multiple HCCs remain unclear.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the outcomes of hepatectomies for Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage 0, A, and B HCCs. We further subclassified stage A and B into A1 (single nodule <5 cm, or three or fewer nodules ≤3 cm), A2 (single nodule 5-10 cm), A3 (single nodule ≥10 cm), B1 (two to three nodules >3 cm), and B2 (four or more nodules).

Results: A total of 1088 patients were enrolled, comprising 88 stage 0, 750 stage A (A1: 485; A2: 190; A3: 75), and 250 stage B (B1: 166; B2: 84) cases. The 5-year overall survival (OS) rates for stage 0, A1, A2, A3, B1, and B2 patients were 70.4%, 74.2%, 63.8%, 47.7%, 47.5%, and 31.9%, respectively (p < 0.0001). Significant differences in OS were found between stages A1 and A2 (p = 0.0118), A2 and A3 (p = 0.0013), and B1 and B2 (p = 0.0050), but not between stages A3 and B1 (p = 0.4742). In stage B1 patients, multivariate analysis indicated that Child-Pugh B cirrhosis was the only independent prognostic factor for the OS outcome.

Conclusions: A hepatectomy should be considered for multiple HCCs if the number of tumors is three or fewer, especially in patients with no cirrhosis or in Child-Pugh A cases, because the long-term results are equivalent to those for a single HCC.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / pathology
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retrospective Studies