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Discordance among aggressiveness characteristics of hepatocellular carcinoma: Portal vein thrombosis and multifocality, related to tumor size, but not to serum alpha-fetoprotein level

Liver Res. 2023 Sep;7(3):256-262. doi: 10.1016/j.livres.2023.07.003. Epub 2023 Jul 16.


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is characterized by several clinically important prognostic parameters, including portal vein thrombosis (PVT), tumor multifocality, and serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels, in addition to maximum tumor diameter (MTD). However, associations among these parameters have not been thoroughly examined. Thus, the study aimed to investigate the correlations among these HCC characteristics in a prospectively collected database.

METHODS: An 8080 HCC patient database derived from our weekly HCC council meeting was examined with respect to the correlations at baseline patient presentation between increases in MTD and changes in the percentage of patients with PVT, multifocality, or AFP levels.

RESULTS: The percentage of patients with PVT and with multifocality (tumor nodule numbers ≥3) significantly increased with enlarging MTD, regardless of the serum AFP level, showing the independence of PVT and multifocality on AFP. The percentage of patients with multifocality increased with enlarging MTD, in the presence or absence of PVT, showing the independence of multifocality from PVT. Therefore, discordance was found between different tumor parameters.

CONCLUSIONS: A statistically significant association was found between PVT and MTD and between multifocality and MTD, all three of which are independent of AFP. PVT and multifocality appeared to be independent of each other. Although PVT and multifocality were independent of AFP, they were also augmented with high serum AFP levels. The results suggest the possibility of multiple pathways of tumor progression in the later stages of HCC development.

PMID:37854945 | PMC:PMC10583763 | DOI:10.1016/j.livres.2023.07.003

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