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Objective: To investigate whether the survival results after resection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have improved within the past decade by an analysis of a prospective cohort of patients over a 10-year period.

Summary Background Data: The surgical death rate after resection of HCC has greatly improved in recent years, but the long-term prognosis remains unsatisfactory. It remains unknown whether the survival results after resection of HCC have improved within the past decade.

Methods: The clinicopathologic and follow-up data of 377 patients who underwent curative resection of HCC between January 1989 and January 1999 were prospectively collected. These patients were categorized according to two time periods: before 1994 (group 1, n = 136) and after 1994 (group 2, n = 241). The two groups were compared for clinicopathologic data and survival results. The prognostic factors for disease-free survival were further analyzed to identify the factors that might have led to improved survival outcomes.

Results: The overall and disease-free survival results were significantly better in group 2 compared with group 1. Patients in group 2 had significantly higher proportions of subclinical presentation, small tumors, and tumors of early pTNM stage. There were also significantly lower frequencies of histologic margin involvement, less intraoperative blood loss, and a lower transfusion rate in group 2. By multivariate analysis, early pTNM stage, subclinical HCC, and no perioperative transfusion were independent favorable prognostic factors for disease-free survival.

Conclusions: Significant improvement of overall and disease-free survival results after resection of HCC has been achieved within the past decade as a result of advances in the diagnosis and surgical management of HCC. Earlier diagnosis of HCC by better imaging modalities, increased detection of subclinical HCC by screening of high-risk patients, and a reduced perioperative transfusion rate were identified as the major contributory factors for the improved outcomes.

(C) 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.