Objective: To review a single-center experience to update the performance indexes of liver resection (LR).
Summary Background Data: Several therapies have been proposed in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) on cirrhosis, although LR was the first to be widely applied.
Methods: Of 408 patients with cirrhosis admitted for HCC in the period 1983 to 1998, 264 had a LR. Patient selection, surgical technique, 30-day deaths, long-term survival, recurrence rate, and recurrence treatment were reviewed after stratifying patients according to the year of surgery. Mean follow-up was 34.5 ± 29.1 months.
Results: The number of Child A patients who underwent surgery after the discovery of the tumor at routine evaluation increased significantly from 64.5% to 87.9% during the study period. Procedures carried out without blood transfusions increased from 31.4% to 76.9%. The overall operative death rate was 4.9%. Actuarial survival rates were 63.1% and 41.1% after 3 and 5 years, respectively; actuarial tumor-free survival rates were 49.3% and 27.9% at the same intervals. After 1992, surgical deaths decreased from 9.3% to 1.3%. Actuarial survival rates increased from 52.9% and 32.3% to 71.7% and 49.4% after 3 and 5 years, respectively. There was no difference in the actuarial recurrence rate between the two periods, but the chance to treat recurrence increased over time from 22.4% to 53.7% with a concomitant, significant improvement in survival.
Conclusions: LR represents a well-established therapy for HCC on cirrhosis. It remains one of the fundamentals in the multidisciplinary approach to this tumor and should be considered as the first option for patients with preserved hepatic function and limited disease. Today, LR should offer a surgical death rate of less than 1.5%, a 5-year survival rate of approximately 50%, and a 5-year tumor-free survival rate of 28% when performed in specialized centers.
From the Department of Surgery and Transplantation, University of Bologna, Policlinico S. Orsola-Malpighi, Bologna, Italy
Correspondence: Dott. Gian Luca Grazi, MD, Department of Surgery and Transplantation, University of Bologna, Policlinico S. Orsola, Via Massarenti 9, 40138 Bologna, Italy.
Accepted for publication December 28, 2000.