The purpose of this study was to clarify the factors linked to recurrence of small hepatocellular carcinomas, up to 3cm in diameter, after hepatectomy. Fifty patients with small hepatocellular carcinomas who underwent hepatectomy between 1976 and 1988 were observed for possible recurrence for at least 2 yr. These patients were divided into two groups: 20 patients who had recurrence within 2 yr and 30 patients who had no recurrence within 2 yr. The recurrence pattern was analyzed by hepatic angiography. Statistical analysis by the X2 test and stepwise logistic regression showed that the risk factors linked to recurrence were (a) tumor diameter greater than 2.2 cm, (b) intracapsular infiltration of tumor cells, (c) tumor location deep in the liver, (d) macroscopical and microscopical tumor invasion into the portal vein and (e) tumor invasion into the portal vein or intrahepatic metastasis.
When patients diagnosed with small hepatocellular carcinomas have any of these risk factors, postoperative adjuvant therapy and follow-up should be particularly carefully considered, since these patients are at high risk for early recurrence. (HEPATOLOGY 1991;14:802–805).