, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 2035-2042
Date: 11 Jan 2013

Performance Status Enhances the Selection of Treatment for Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma Within the Milan Criteria

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Performance status (PS) is closely linked with survival in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated its impact on treatment strategy for small HCC(s).


A total of 360 and 362 HCC patients within the Milan criteria undergoing surgical resection (SR) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA), respectively, were prospectively enrolled. Patients were classified into PS 0 (n = 558) and PS ≥1 (n = 164) groups. Propensity score analysis was performed, and 168 and 35 matched pairs were selected from patients with PS 0 and ≥1, respectively.


The SR group was younger and had a higher male-to-female ratio, higher prevalence of hepatitis B, lower prevalence of hepatitis C, better PS, better liver functional reserve, and larger tumor burden than the RFA group (all p < 0.05). Among patients with PS 0, the SR group was consistently younger, less cirrhotic, and had larger tumor burden (all p < 0.05). The long-term survival was comparable between SR and RFA group in patients with PS 0. After propensity score matching, SR provided significantly better long-term survival than RFA for patients within the Milan criteria classified as PS 0 (p = 0.016); the Cox proportional hazards model showed consistent results. There was no significant difference of overall survival between the SR and RFA group in patients with PS ≥1 before or after propensity score matching (both p > 0.05).


For HCC patients within the Milan criteria and classified as PS 0, SR provides a better long-term survival compared with RFA. Performance status may enhance treatment selection and stratify the risk of survival in these patients.