• geographic variations;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • long-term trend;
  • survival;
  • Taiwan


Background/Aims:  The survival rates of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) were investigated over the past 20 years to clarify the long-term survival trend.

Methods:  A total of 11 312 patients with HCC from seven medical centers from 1986 to 2002 were included. Survival was analyzed by correlating data with the national mortality databank.

Results:  Multivariate analysis showed that the following factors were associated with shorter survival: male sex, younger age, hepatitis B virus, earlier year of diagnosis, alpha fetoprotein higher than 400 ng/mL, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) higher than two times the upper normal limit, higher aspartate aminotransferase (AST)/ALT ratio, central or southern Taiwan residence, and rural areas residence. Patients diagnosed during 1998–2002 showed the highest survival rate, followed by patients diagnosed during 1994–1997, 1990–1993, and 1986–1989, respectively.

Conclusions:  There are geographic variations in the survival rates of patients with HCC. Survival has been improving gradually over the past 20 years, probably due to earlier detection of HCC or to improved patient care.