Changing Paradigm in the Management of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Improves the Survival Benefit of Early Detection by Screening

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate the impact of improved surgical management of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) on the survival of patients with screened HCC.

Summary Background Data:

It is unclear whether the advent of new treatment modalities such as liver transplantation and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in recent years have improved the long-term survival in patients with HCC detected by screening.

Methods:

A prospective database of 1366 patients with known chronic hepatitis B or C virus infection diagnosed with HCC either by screening or symptomatic presentation from January 1991 to December 2004 was reviewed. The long-term survival of HCC patients in the screened and symptomatic groups was compared. The management and survival of patients in two 7-year periods (1991–1997 vs. 1998–2004) were further compared.

Results:

Long-term survival was significantly better in the screened group than in the symptomatic group (median survival 61.9 vs. 11.5 months, P < 0.001). The proportion of patients with curative treatment increased from 50.5% in the first period to 67.8% in the second period in the screened group, but there was no significant change in the symptomatic group. Improved long-term survival was observed in patients with HCC detected by screening and treated in the second period compared with the first period (median survival 68.5 vs. 38.7 months, P = 0.022), but no significant improvement was observed for symptomatic patients.

Conclusion:

Survival of patients with HCC detected by screening has improved in recent years due to increased chance of curative treatment with the advent of liver transplantation and RFA.

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