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Keywords:

  • biological neoplastic markers;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • prognostic factors

Abstract.

Background/aims.  The prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) on cirrhosis is hard to predict as it depends on tumour stage, underlying liver disease, type of treatment and, possibly, biological factors of the tumour itself.

Methods.  We prospectively evaluated the survival of 91 consecutive patients with HCC on cirrhosis, diagnosed between January 1998 and December 1999. Clinical features and histological/biological aspects, including histotype, grade, p53 overexpression, cytoproliferation and apoptotic markers were analysed.

Results.  Child-Pugh (P = 0.01), Okuda (P < 0.0001), Cancer of the Liver Italian Program (CLIP) staging (P < 0.0001) and type of treatment (P = 0.0001) were significantly related to survival. In the Cox model, CLIP staging was included as independent predictor of survival at step 1 (P < 0.0001) with Okuda at step 2 (P = 0.013). Amongst the biological factors, p53 overexpression and histotype were significantly related with survival (P = 0.0044 and 0.017 respectively). When clinical and biological variables were examined together in the Cox model, CLIP and Okuda were confirmed as being statistically related with survival (P < 0.0001 and =0.012) followed by histotype and p53 overexpression (P = 0.019 and 0.02).

Conclusions.  CLIP, Okuda, histotype and p53 overexpression are the strongest predictors of survival in this series of patients. These data confirm that staging of the tumour and underlying liver disease are strictly related to prognosis but support the concurrent role of clinical and biological factors in upgrading our capacity of predicting the fate of HCC patients.