Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 937–947 | Cite as

Low Alpha-Fetoprotein Levels Are Associated with Improved Survival in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients with Portal Vein Thrombosis

  • Brian I. CarrEmail author
  • Vito Guerra
Original Article



Macroscopic portal vein thrombosis (PVT) is a common and dire prognostic feature of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and often precludes many treatments as a result. Little is known about its causes or mechanisms or clinical associations.


To examine patients with PVT in order to possibly identify prognostically different subsets.


A large cohort of non-curable patients with advanced and biopsy-proven HCC in which survival was documented, were retrospectively examined.


We analyzed a large HCC cohort containing 366 (63.3 %) PVT-positive patients and found that PVT is associated with patients having larger tumors and higher levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and des-gamma carboxyprothrombin (DCP). We identified in patients with normal bilirubin levels (≤2.0 mg/dl) two PVT-positive patients, having higher and lower AFP levels, respectively. They differed in the significantly better prognosis of the low AFP patients, which may be useful for patient management decisions.


Patients with PVT are heterogeneous with respect to AFP levels. AFP-negative patients have a significantly better survival than those who have elevated AFP.


Portal vein thrombosis AFP DCP Survival 



Hepatocellular carcinoma


Portal vein thrombosis




Des-gamma carboxyprothrombin


Gamma glutamyl transpeptidase


Alkaline phosphatase


Aspartate aminotransferase




Maximum tumor diameter


Computerized axial tomography


Magnetic resonance imaging


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Izmir Biomedicine and Genome CenterDokuz Eylul UniversityIzmirTurkey
  2. 2.IRCCS de BellisNational Institute for Digestive DiseasesCastellana GrotteItaly

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