Published online Feb 28, 2017. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i8.1469
Peer-review started: October 7, 2016
First decision: November 21, 2016
Revised: December 2, 2016
Accepted: February 8, 2017
Article in press: February 8, 2017
Published online: February 28, 2017
To investigate death for liver failure and for tumor recurrence as competing events after hepatectomy of hepatocellular carcinoma.
Data from 864 cirrhotic Child-Pugh class A consecutive patients, submitted to curative hepatectomy (1997-2013) at two tertiary referral hospitals, were used for competing-risk analysis through the Fine and Gray method, aimed at assessing in which circumstances the oncological benefit from tumour removal is greater than the risk of dying from hepatic decompensation. To accomplish this task, the average risk of these two competing events, over 5 years of follow-up, was calculated through the integral of each cumulative incidence function, and represented the main comparison parameter.
Within a median follow-up of 5.6 years, death was attributable to tumor recurrence in 63.5%, and to liver failure in 21.2% of cases. In the first 16 mo, the risk of dying due to liver failure exceeded that of dying due to tumor relapse. Tumor stage only affects death from recurrence; whereas hepatitis C infection, Model for End-stage Liver Disease score, extent of hepatectomy and portal hypertension influence death from liver failure (P < 0.05 in all cases). The combination of these clinical and tumoral features identifies those patients in whom the risk of dying from liver failure did not exceed the tumour-related mortality, representing optimal surgical candidates. It also identifies those clinical circumstances where the oncological benefit would be borderline or even where the surgery would be harmful.
Having knowledge of these competing events can be used to weigh the risks and benefits of hepatic resection in each clinical circumstance, separating optimal from non-optimal surgical candidates.
Core tip: Optimal candidates for hepatectomy should benefit from the tumour removal that encompasses the risk of dying from post-operative liver function worsening and failure. This means that when evaluating patients for surgery, the competing risks of tumour-related death and of liver failure have to be weighed against each other, and considered from the point of view of available alternative therapies. In the present study, a large cohort of Child-Pugh class A cirrhotic patients submitted to curative (R0) hepatic resection for hepatocellular carcinoma was analysed to provide a competing-risk analysis of these two competing events.