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Do young hepatocellular carcinoma patients have worse prognosis? The paradox of age as a prognostic factor in the survival of hepatocellular carcinoma patients


Sheng-Nan Lu, MD, MPH, PhD, Division of Hepatogastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, 123 Tapei Road, Niaosung 833, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
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Abstract: Background/Aims: Our previous study showed that male hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients below 40 years of age had the worst survival in the initial several years, but had the best prognosis thereafter. Thus, it seems that age has a paradoxical influence on the prognosis. To further clarify the issue of age on HCC prognosis, we initiated this study.

Methods: A total of 11 312 HCC cases from seven medical centers from 1986 to 2002 were included. We analyzed the 1-year survival and survival after 1 year.

Results: Male gender, age younger than 40 years old and hepatitis B virus (HBV) were associated with worse 1-year survival. In contrast, male gender, age younger than 40 years old and HBV were associated with better survival after 1 year. Higher percentage of the young HCC patients had a tumor size larger than 3 cm. 83.7% of HCC patients below 40 years of age were male and 89.8% of them were HBV carriers.

Conclusions: If we encountered a young HCC patient, the patient will probably be a male HBV carrier. He would probably have larger tumor and is more likely to expire within 1 year than the older HCC patients. However, if the young HCC patient can survive for more than 1 year, he would probably have better survival in the following years than the older patients.

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