Goals and Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma in non-hepatitis B virus endemic areas is rare in patients younger than 40 years of age. The aim of this study was to characterize young patients in a large German cohort in comparison with older patients with regard to underlying liver disease, clinical management, and survival.
Study: We analyzed the clinical data and medical records of 1108 consecutive patients with confirmed hepatocellular carcinoma. Twenty-five patients (2%) were younger than 40 years of age. We compared this subgroup with patients older than 40 years of age.
Results: Underlying chronic liver disease was less common in young patients and detectable in only 56% of patients. Fibrolamellar carcinoma was more frequent in young versus old patients (20% vs. 0.7%; P<0.001). There was a trend toward more potentially curative treatment options in young patients, and overall survival was longer in the young group compared with older patients (56.0 vs. 15.2 mo; P=0.048).
Conclusions: This western cohort of young patients is distinctly different from described Asian cohorts, especially with regard to a lower rate of underlying liver disease and particularly hepatitis B virus. Young patients had a better overall survival than older patients.