Recent studies have shown that the prognosis of recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after resection was dependent on the time of recurrence. The current study investigated whether early and late intrahepatic recurrences were associated with different risk factors and prognostic factors.
After curative resection of HCC, 246 patients were followed prospectively for recurrence. Intrahepatic recurrences were classified into early (≤ 1 year) and late (> 1 year) recurrences. Risk factors for recurrence and prognostic factors for survival after recurrence in each group were analyzed.
Early and late intrahepatic recurrences developed in 80 patients and 46 patients, respectively. By multivariate analysis, preoperative tumor rupture (P = 0.022) and venous invasion (P < 0.001) were independent risk factors for early recurrence, whereas cirrhosis (P = 0.018) was the only significant risk factor for late recurrence. By comparing histologic features of resected recurrent and primary tumors, 8 of 9 resected early recurrent tumors (89%) were classified as intrahepatic metastases, whereas all 6 resected late recurrent tumors (100%) were multicentric occurrences. Despite similar treatments, the prognosis for patients with early recurrence was worse than that of patients with late recurrence (median survival of 15.8 months vs. 29.6 months; P = 0.005). Independent prognostic factors for early recurrence were serum albumin level and initial tumor pTNM classification, whereas only serum bilirubin level was found to be an independent prognostic factor for late recurrence.
Early and late intrahepatic recurrences after resection of HCC were associated with different risk factors and prognostic factors. Early recurrences appear to arise mainly from intrahepatic metastases, whereas late recurrences are more likely to be multicentric in origin. The current study suggests that different strategies may be needed for the prevention and management of early and late recurrences. Further studies based on genetic analysis of clonal origins of tumors are required to clarify fully the mechanism of early and late recurrences after resection of HCC. Cancer 2000;89:500–7. © 2000 American Cancer Society.