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

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Abstract

Background

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.

Aims

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

Methods

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

Results

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.

Conclusions

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

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Abbreviations

HCC:

Hepatocellular carcinoma

PVT:

Portal vein thrombosis

AFP:

Alpha-fetoprotein

DCP:

Des-gamma carboxyprothrombin

GGT:

Gamma glutamyl transpeptidase

ALKP:

Alkaline phosphatase

AST:

Aspartate aminotransferase

Hb:

Hemoglobin

MTD:

Maximum tumor diameter

CT:

Computerized axial tomography

MRI:

Magnetic resonance imaging

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Correspondence to Brian I. Carr.

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Carr, B.I., Guerra, V. Low Alpha-Fetoprotein Levels Are Associated with Improved Survival in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients with Portal Vein Thrombosis. Dig Dis Sci 61, 937–947 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10620-015-3922-3

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Keywords

  • Portal vein thrombosis
  • AFP
  • DCP
  • Survival