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Systematic review of actual 10-year survival following resection for hepatocellular carcinoma


  • This study was presented at the Third Biennial Congress of the Asian Pacific Hepatopancreatobiliary Association, 27–30 September 2011, Melbourne, Victoria.

Vincent W. T. Lam, Department of Surgery, Westmead Hospital, Darcy Road, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia. Tel: + 61 2 9845 6976. Fax: + 61 2 9893 7440. E-mail:


Background:  Hepatic resection is a potentially curative therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but recurrence of disease is very common. Few studies have reported 10-year actual survival rates following hepatic resection; instead, most have used actuarial measures based on the Kaplan–Meier method. This systematic review aims to document 10-year actual survival rates and to identify factors significant in determining prognosis.

Methods:  A comprehensive search was undertaken of MEDLINE and EMBASE. Only studies reporting the absolute number of patients alive at 10 years after first resection for HCC were included; these figures were used to calculate the actual 10-year survival rate. A qualitative review and analysis of the prognostic factors identified in the included studies were performed.

Results:  Fourteen studies, all of which were retrospective case series, including data on 4197 patients with HCC were analysed. Ten years following resection, 303 of these patients were alive. The 10-year actual survival rate was 7.2%, whereas the actuarial survival quoted from the same studies was 26.8%. Positive prognostic factors included better hepatic function, a wider surgical margin and the absence of satellite lesions.

Conclusions:  The actual long-term survival rate after resection of HCC is significantly inferior to reported actuarial survival rates. The Kaplan–Meier method of actuarial survival analysis tends to overestimate survival outcomes as a result of censorship of data and subgroup analysis.