Published online Sep 27, 2019. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v11.i9.678
Peer-review started: May 29, 2019
First decision: June 13, 2019
Revised: July 8, 2019
Accepted: August 20, 2019
Article in press: August 20, 2019
Published online: September 27, 2019
Despite being the world’s most widely used system for staging and therapeutic guidance in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treatment, the Barcelona clinic liver cancer (BCLC) system has limitations, especially regarding intermediate-grade (BCLC-B) tumors. The recently proposed Hong Kong liver cancer (HKLC) staging system appears useful but requires validation in Western populations.
To evaluate the agreement between BCLC and HKLC staging on the management of HCC in a Western population, estimating the overall patient survival.
This was a retrospective study of HCC patients treated at a university hospital in southern Brazil between 2011 and 2016. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data were collected. HCC staging was carried out according to the HKLC and BCLC systems to assess treatment agreement. Overall survival was estimated based on the treatment proposed in each system.
A total of 519 HCC patients were assessed. Of these, 178 (34.3%) were HKLC-I; 95 (18.3%) HKLC-IIA; 47 (9.1%) HKLC-IIB; 29 (5.6%) HKLC-IIIA; 30 (5.8%) HKLC-IIIB; 75 (14.4%) HKLC-IV; and 65 (12.5%) HKLC-V. According to the BCLC, 25 (4.9%) were BCLC-0; 246 (47.4%) BCLC-A; 107 (20.6%) BCLC-B; 76 (14.6%) BCLC-C; and 65 (12.5%) BCLC-D. The general agreement between the two systems was 80.0% - BCLC-0 and HKLC-I (100%); BCLC-A and HKLC-I/HKLC-II (96.7%); BCLC-B and HKLC-III (46.7%); BCLC-C and HKLC-IV (98.7%); BCLC-D and HKLC-V (41.5%). When sub-classifying BCLC-A, HKLC-IIB, HKLC-IIIA and HKLC-IIIB stages according to the up-to-7 in/out criterion, 13.4, 66.0, 100 and 36.7%, respectively, of the cases were classified as up-to-7 out.
In a Western population, the general agreement between the two systems was 80.0%, although in BCLC-B cases the agreement was low, suggesting that some individuals could be candidates for the curative treatment recommended by the HKLC. The authors suggest that the BCLC system should be routinely employed, although for BCLC-B cases it should be associated with the HKLC system.
Core tip: Despite being the world’s most widely used system for staging and therapeutic guidance in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treatment, the Barcelona clinic liver cancer (BCLC) system has limitation. Proposed Hong Kong liver cancer (HKLC) staging appears useful but requires validation in Western populations. This study showed that there is adequate agreement between the HKLC and BCLC systems regarding therapeutic management of HCC in Western populations, except in cases of intermediate HCC. Although staging systems should be further refined to cover the full diversity of HCC cases, these findings suggest that the BCLC system, which is more simple and intuitive, should be applied in all HCC cases, and that in BCLC-A and, especially, BCLC-B cases, the HKLC can contribute important information regarding patient management.