Defining the chance of cure after resection for hepatocellular carcinoma within and beyond the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer guidelines

a multi-institutional analysis of 1,010 patients

Diamantis I. Tsilimigras, Fabio Bagante, Dimitrios Moris, Katiuscha Merath, Anghela Z. Paredes, Kota Sahara, Francesca Ratti, Hugo P. Marques, Olivier Soubrane, Vincent Lam, George A. Poultsides, Irinel Popescu, Sorin Alexandrescu, Guillaume Martel, Aklile Workneh, Alfredo Guglielmi, Tom Hugh, Luca Aldrighetti, Itaru Endo, Timothy M. Pawlik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Surgery is considered the only potentially curative treatment option for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. However, the chance that patients will eventually be “cured” after liver resection for hepatocellular carcinoma remains ill defined. Methods: Patients who underwent curative-intent hepatectomy for hepatocellular carcinoma between 1998 and 2017 were identified using an international multi-institutional database. A nonmixture cure model was used with disease-free survival as a primary measure to estimate cure fractions after matching patients with the general population by age, race, and sex. Results: Among 1,010 patients, the median and 5-year disease-free survival were 2.8 years and 36.6%, respectively. The probability of being cured after hepatocellular carcinoma resection was 42.2% and the median time to cure was 3.35 years. The multivariable cure model revealed preoperative alpha-fetoprotein level, tumor size, tumor number, and margin status as independent predictors of cure. The cure fraction for patients with an alpha-fetoprotein level ≤ 10 ng/mL, largest tumor size ≤5 cm, ≤3 nodules, and R0 resection was 61.6%. In contrast, patients who had all 4 unfavorable prognostic factors (ie, alpha-fetoprotein >11 ng/mL, nodules ≥4, size >5cm, R1 resection) had a cure fraction of 15.8%. Although the probability of cure was 47.6% among Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer-A patients, patients undergoing resection for Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer-B hepatocellular carcinoma had a 37.6% cure fraction. Only alpha-fetoprotein levels predicted the probability of cure among Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer-B patients. Conclusion: Roughly 4 in 10 patients could be considered “cured” after liver resection for hepatocellular carcinoma. Although cure was achieved more often after resection for Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer-A hepatocellular carcinoma, surgery still provided a reasonable probability of cure among select patients with Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer-B hepatocellular carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)967-974
Number of pages8
JournalSurgery (United States)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes


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