Optimal tumor numbers in surgical candidates for multiple hepatocellular carcinomas

Published:August 04, 2022DOI:



      According to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases guidelines, liver resection is not recommended for multiple hepatocellular carcinomas, although it is performed in Asian countries, including Japan. However, the maximum number, location, and recurrence types of tumors have not been reported in detail.


      This retrospective study analyzed data for 1,170 patients who underwent surgical resection for hepatocellular carcinoma between October 2002 and December 2020 in a Japanese tertiary care hospital. Statistical analysis was performed to compare the surgical short-term and long-term outcomes among patients with >3 tumors and those with ≤3 tumors.


      This study of patients who underwent liver resection identified 775 who had a single tumor and compared overall survival rates with 477 who had multiple hepatocellular carcinomas: 242 had 2 hepatocellular carcinomas, 79 had 3 hepatocellular carcinomas, and 74 had >3 hepatocellular carcinomas. The median survival times based on the number of tumors were 9.74 years for a single tumor, 6.36 years for 2 tumors, 7.21 years for 3 tumors, 3.31 years for 4 tumors, and 3.48 years for 5 tumors. The median survival time was significantly worse in patients with >3 tumors than in those with 3 tumors (P < .0001). Concerning the type of treatments for recurrence, the patients who underwent surgical treatment had significantly better survival after recurrence than patients who underwent other treatments (8.32 vs 3.19 years; P < .001).


      The overall survival after liver resection was significantly worse for patients with >3 tumors than for those with <3 tumors. However, liver resection can be recommended for patients with 2 or 3 hepatocellular carcinomas because an acceptable median survival (>5 years) can be expected.
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