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Prognostic Impact of Sarcomatous Change of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients Undergoing Liver Resection and Liver Transplantation

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Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery


Sarcomatous change has been rarely observed in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but it is usually associated with very aggressive tumor behavior and widespread metastasis. To assess the impact of sarcomatous changes, we analyzed the outcomes of 15 patients with sarcomatous HCC after resection (n = 11) or liver transplantation (LT) (n = 4). No imaging findings characteristic of sarcomatous changes were observed. According to modified pathological tumor-node metastasis staging, the HCC lesions were classified as stage II in five patients, stage III in six, stage IVa2 in two, and stage IVb in one. The Milan criteria were met in 7 of 15 patients, including 3 of 4 in the LT group. R0 resection was achieved in 9 of 11 resected patients, and their 3-year overall and disease-free survival rates were both 18.2%. In the LT group, 3-year overall and disease-free survival rates were 37.5 and 25%, respectively. In patients within the Milan criteria, 2-year overall survival rate was 25% after resection and 33% after LT, showing no prognostic difference. Extrahepatic metastasis as initial recurrence was detected in 80% after resection and 66.7% after LT. In conclusion, we found that the prognosis of patients with sarcomatous HCC was very unfavorable after either resection or LT and that, except for liver biopsy, no diagnostic method could distinguish between sarcomatous and ordinary HCC. Vigorous postoperative systemic surveillance may be helpful for timely detection and treatment of localized metastases.

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computed tomography


hepatocellular carcinoma


liver transplantation


transarterial chemoembolization


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Correspondence to Shin Hwang.

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Hwang, S., Lee, SG., Lee, YJ. et al. Prognostic Impact of Sarcomatous Change of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Patients Undergoing Liver Resection and Liver Transplantation. J Gastrointest Surg 12, 718–724 (2008).

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