, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 170-177
Date: 05 Oct 2010

A Prognostic Model and Treatment Strategy for Intrahepatic Recurrence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma after Curative Resection

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the prognostic factors for intrahepatic recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after curative resection.


Of 297 patients with HCC who underwent curative resection between 1998 and 2007, 145 had intrahepatic recurrence, and 125 of these were enrolled in this study. We analyzed the relationships between overall survival after HCC recurrence and 20 variables at initial hepatectomy and recurrence.


Recurrent HCC was treated by repeat hepatectomy (Re-Hr, n = 29), radiofrequency ablation (RFA, n = 58), or transarterial chemoembolization (TAE, n = 38). Complete tumor control (CTC) by Re–He and RFA was selected for 70% of patients. RFA-treated patients had more tumors, smaller tumors, and poorer liver function at recurrence than the Re-Hr group. The overall 1-, 3-, and 5-year post-recurrence survival rates (SR) were 93.1, 66.8, 58.1%; 94.7, 75.1, 48.3%; and 80.1, 22.5, 0%, respectively, in the Re-Hr, RFA, and TAE groups. The SR was better for Re-Hr and RFA than for TAE (p < 0.0001). Outcomes were similar in Re-Hr and RFA, regardless of recurrent tumor size. Multivariate analysis identified Child-Pugh grade B, AFP ≥100 ng/ml at recurrence, recurrent tumor size ≥3 cm, tumor number ≥3, and CTC as significant prognostic factors for overall post-recurrence survival. A scoring system using 1 point for each patient-background factor provided a well-categorized predictive model. The overall 3-/5-year post-recurrence SRs were 83.1/59.3%, 64.1/41.9%, 42.0/18.0%, and 13.6/0% at risk number (R) R0, R1, R2, and R3/4, respectively (p < 0.05).


Significant prognostic factors for intrahepatic recurrent HCC are poor hepatic reserve, AFP, recurrent tumor size and number, and CTC. Selection of treatment modality for intrahepatic recurrence requires the clinician to be mindful of the predictive factors and to control tumors aggressively by adequate treatment, selected by balancing various conditions.