Combined measurement of preoperative α-fetoprotein and des-γ-carboxy prothrombin predicts recurrence after curative resection in patients with hepatitis-B-related hepatocellular carcinoma

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Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and des-γ-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) are widely used complementary tumor markers for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this study, we investigated whether preoperative AFP and DCP levels predict recurrence after curative resection in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related HCC. Records for 267 patients who were diagnosed with HBV-related HCC and who underwent curative resection for HCC were retrospectively reviewed. Patients were divided into two preoperative groups: pre-op I (AFP ≥20 ng/dL and DCP ≥40 mAU/mL) and pre-op II (AFP ≥20 ng/dL and DCP <40 mAU/mL; AFP <20 ng/dL and DCP ≥40 mAU/mL; or AFP <20 ng/dL and DCP <40 mAU/mL). Among 267 patients, 102 (38.2%) patients were classified as pre-op I, whereas the other 165 (61.8%) belonged to pre-op II. During the post-resection follow-up [69.0 (3.0–136.0) months] period, 154 (57.7%) patients developed recurrences [68 (66.7%) patients in pre-op Ivs.86 (52.1%) in pre-op II,p= 0.029]. A multivariate analysis revealed that multiple tumors [hazard ratio (HR), 2.210; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.185–4.121] and pre-op I (HR: 1.890; 95% CI; 1.080–3.289) were significant predictors for recurrence. Disease-free survival (DFS) was significantly shorter in pre-op I compared to that in pre-op II (20.0vs. 46.8 months,p= 0.006). Elevated preoperative AFP and DCP levels were associated with a higher recurrence rate and shorter DFS in patients with HBV-related HCC after curative resection. The combined measurement of preoperative AFP and DCP may be a prognostic factor for future recurrence.

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