Article Abstract

Pattern of disease recurrence and its implications for postoperative surveillance after curative hepatectomy for hepatocellular carcinoma: experience from a single center

Authors: Kit-Fai Lee, Charing C. N. Chong, Anthony K. W. Fong, Andrew K. Y. Fung, Hon-Ting Lok, Yue-Sun Cheung, John Wong, Paul B. S. Lai


Background: Hepatectomy is a widely accepted curative treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the disease frequently recurs after a curative hepatectomy. The objective of this study is to provide a better understanding of the pattern of disease recurrence and the risk factors involved so as to improve the postoperative surveillance.
Methods: A retrospective study for all patients receiving hepatectomy for HCC between 2003 and 2014 was performed. Emphasis was made on the timing and pattern of recurrent disease, and type of treatment given.
Results: There were 506 patients in the study. Median follow-up was 43.7 months. The 1-, 3-, 5-, 10-year overall and disease free survival were 89.5%, 74.1%, 63.9%, 49.0% and 69.5%, 54.3%, 43.4%, 30.9% respectively. Recurrent disease occurred in 267 patients, 47.2% occurred within 9 months of hepatectomy and 80.1% recurred only in liver. Median survival was shorter for recurrence occurring within 9 months compared with those occurring between 10 months and 2 years postoperatively (36.2 versus 65.7 months, P<0.01) whilst less curative treatment was offered for patients with early (within 9 months) intrahepatic alone recurrence (22.2% vs. 51.7%, P<0.01). Multivariate analysis revealed tumor size >3.5 cm and history of rupture were risk factors for recurrence within 9 months.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that recurrent diseases are common after curative hepatectomy for HCC and most recurrences occur in the remnant liver. Since almost half of recurrences occurred within first 9 months after hepatectomy, a more stringent postoperative surveillance with target imaging of liver in this period is needed. Early diagnosis of recurrent disease and curative retreatment hopefully can bring about a longer survival.