Earlier presentation and application of curative treatments in hepatocellular carcinoma


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.

  • Supported by the Intramural Research Program of the NIH, National Cancer Institute, National Cancer Institute contracts with SEER registries.


The purpose of the study was to assess the use of curative therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the population. HCC treatment patterns were examined in Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) 18 registries (28% of U.S.). Joinpoint regression analyses were performed to assess 2000-2010 incidence trends by tumor size, count, and receipt of potentially curative treatments (transplantation, resection, and ablation). SEER-Medicare data enabled evaluation of treatment patterns including receipt of sorafenib or transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) by HCC-associated comorbidities. Diagnoses of tumors ≤5.0 cm in diameter significantly increased during 2000-2010, surpassing diagnosis of larger tumors. Overall, 23% of cases received potentially curative treatment. Joinpoint models indicated incidence rates of treatment with curative intent increased 17.6% per year during 2000-2005, then declined by −2.9% per year during 2005-2010 (P < 0.001). Among HCC cases with a single tumor ≤5.0 cm and no extension beyond the liver, use of ablative therapy significantly increased during 2000-2010. Use of invasive surgery for single tumors, regardless of size, significantly increased during the initial years of the decade, then plateaued. The group most likely to receive curative treatment in the SEER-Medicare cases was patients with one, small tumor confined to the liver (657 of 1,597 cases, 41%), with no difference in treatment by hepatic comorbidity status (P = 0.24). A higher proportion of cases with reported liver-associated comorbidities were, however, diagnosed with tumors ≤5.0 cm in diameter (1,745 0f 2,464, 71%) compared to patients with no reported comorbidities (996 of 2,596, 38%, P < 0.001). Conclusion: Although more HCC patients were diagnosed with early disease over time, the use of curative treatments in this patient group has recently plateaued. Efforts to identify and treat more eligible candidates for curative therapy could be beneficial. (Hepatology 2014;60:1637–1644)