Published online Apr 15, 2002. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v8.i2.193
Revised: January 14, 2002
Accepted: January 24, 2002
Published online: April 15, 2002
The prognosis of patients with HCC still remains dismal. The life expectancy of HCC patients is hard to predict because of the high possibility of postoperative recurrence. Many factors, such as patient's general conditions, macroscopic tumor morphology, as well as tumor hitopathology features, have been proven of prognostic significance. Female HCC patient often has a better prognosis than male patient, which might be due to the receptor of sex hormones. Younger patients often have tumors with higher invasiveness and metastatic potentials, and their survival and prognosis are worse than the older ones. Co-existing hepatitis status and hepatic functional reserve have been confirmed as risk factors for recurrence. Serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) is useful not only for diagnosis, but also as a prognostic indicator for HCC patients. AFP mRNA has been proposed as a predictive marker of HCC cells disseminated into the circulation and for metastatic recurrence. Many pathologic features, such as tumor size, number, capsule state, cell differentiation, venous invasion, intrahepatic spreading, and advanced pTNM stage, are the best-established risk factors for recurrence and important aspects affecting the prognosis of patients with HCC. Marked inflammatory cell infiltration in the tumor could predict a better prognosis. Clinical stage is still the most important factor influencing on the prognosis. Extratumor spreading and lymph nodal metastasis are independent predictors for poor outcome. Some new predictive systems have recently been proposed. Different strategies of treatment might have significant different effects on the patients' prognosis. To date, surgical resection is still the only potentially curative treatment for HCC, including localized postoperative recurrences. Extent of resection, blood transfusion, occlusion of porta hepatis, and blood loss affect the survival and prognosis of HCC patients. Regional therapies provide alternative ways to improve the prognosis of HCC patients who have no opportunity to receive surgical treatment or postoperative recurrence. The combination of these treatment modalities is hopeful to further improve the prognosis. The efficacies of neoadjuvant (preoperative) or adjuvant (postoperative) chemotherapy or chemoembolization in preventing recurrence and on the HCC prognosis still remain great controversy, and deserves further evaluation. Biotherapy, including IFN-alpha therapy, will play more important role in preventing recurrence and metastasis of HCC after operation.