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This prospective cohort study explored the impact of disclosure of diagnosis and patient autonomy on the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and illness perceptions in Chinese patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).Patients with HCC who were admitted for potentially curative treatments in a teaching hospital were recruited from August 2013 to July 2014. Patients were interviewed at admission regarding their HRQOL and their attitude towards disclosure of diagnosis. They were interviewed again regarding HRQOL and illness perceptions at discharge.There were 218 patients recruited; 57.8% of them were aware of their cancer diagnosis (disclosed group). For 63.8% of the participants, their desire for disclosure or nondisclosure was satisfied (autonomy-satisfied group). When comparing the patients in the disclosed group with the patients who were uninformed, the patients in the disclosed group had higher scores for global HRQOL at discharge (p =0.013) and higher scores on understanding of their illness regarding illness perceptions (p =0.022). When comparing the patients in the ‘autonomy-satisfied’ group with the patients whose desire for disclosure was not satisfied, the patients in the autonomy-satisfied group had better emotional functioning and better global HRQOL at discharge (p< 0.001 andp =0.001, respectively). Additionally, the patients in the autonomy-satisfied group had higher scores for personal control (p =0.009) and lower scores for emotional reaction (p =0.007) regarding illness perceptions, even after controlling for other confounding factors.Our findings suggest that for patients with HCC who have undergone potentially curative treatment, physicians should satisfy patients' desires for autonomy regarding the disclosure of their diagnosis.