Application of the Intermediate-Stage Subclassification to Patients With Untreated Hepatocellular Carcinoma

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OBJECTIVES:The Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) intermediate stage (BCLC B) includes a heterogeneous population of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Recently, in order to facilitate treatment decisions, a panel of experts proposed to subclassify BCLC B patients. In this study, we aimed to assess the prognostic capability of the BCLC B stage reclassification in a large cohort of patients with untreated HCC managed by the Italian Liver Cancer Group.METHODS:We assessed the prognosis of 269 untreated HCC patients observed in the period 1987–2012 who were reclassified according to the proposed subclassification of the BCLC B stage from stage B1 to stage B4. We evaluated and compared the survival of the various substages.RESULTS:Median survival progressively decreased from stage B1 (n=65, 24.2%: 25 months) through stages B2 (n=105, 39.0%: 16 months) and B3 (n=22, 8.2%: 9 months), to stage B4 (n=77, 28.6%: 5 months;P<0.0001). Moreover, we observed a significantly different survival between contiguous stages (B1 vs. B2,P=0.0002; B2 vs. B3,P<0.0001; B3 vs. B4,P=0.0219). In multivariate analysis, the BCLC B subclassification (P<0.0001), MELD score (P=0.0013), and platelet count (P=0.0252) were independent predictors of survival.CONCLUSIONS:The subclassification of the intermediate-stage HCC predicts the prognosis of patients with untreated HCC. The prognostic figures identified in this study may be used as a benchmark to assess the efficacy of therapeutic intervention in the various BCLC B substages, whereas it remains to be established whether incorporation of the MELD score might improve the prognosis of treated patients.

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