Albumin-bilirubin grade predicts the outcomes of liver resection versus radiofrequency ablation for very early/early stage of hepatocellular carcinoma

Charing Ching-Ning Chong, Anthony Wing-Hung Chan, John Wong, Cheuk-Man Chu, Stephen Lam Chan, Kit-Fai Lee, Simon Chun-Ho Yu, Ka-Fai To, Philip Johnson, Paul Bo-San Lai
Surgeon: Journal of the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Ireland 2018, 16 (3): 163-170

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Whether liver resection or ablation should be the first-line treatment for very early/early hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients who are candidates for both remains controversial. The aim of this study was to determine if the newly-developed Albumin-Bilirubin (ALBI) grade might help in treatment selections and to evaluate the survival of patients treated with liver resection and radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

METHODS: Patients with BCLC stage 0/A HCC who were treated with curative liver resection and RFA from 2003 to 2013 were included. Baseline clinical and laboratory parameters were retrieved and reviewed from the hospital database. Liver function and its impact on survival was assessed by the ALBI score. Overall and disease-free survivals were compared between the two groups.

RESULTS: 488 patients underwent liver resection (n = 318) and RFA (n = 170) for BCLC stage 0/A HCC during the study period. Liver resection offered superior survival to RFA in patients with BCLC stage 0/A HCC in the whole cohort. After propensity score matching, liver resection offered superior overall survival and disease-free survival to RFA in patients with ALBI grade 1 (P = 0.0002 and P < 0.0001 respectively). In contrast, there were no significant differences in overall survival and disease-free survival between liver resection and RFA in patients with ALBI grade 2 (P = 0.7119 and 0.3266, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Liver resection offered superior survival to RFA in patients with BCLC stage 0/A HCC. The ALBI grade could identify those patients with worse liver function who did not gain any survival advantage from curative liver resection.

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