JOURNAL ARTICLE

Liver tumors in children in the particular reference to hepatoblastoma and hepatocellular carcinoma: American Academy of Pediatrics Surgical Section Survey—1974

P R Exelby, R M Filler, J L Grosfeld
Journal of Pediatric Surgery 1975, 10 (3): 329-37
49416
A review of 227 cases of hepatoblastoma, hepatic cell carcinoma in children seen in the United States over a 10-yr period is presented. Both tumors were seen most commonly in infancy, but the hepatocellular carcinoma shows a second peak of incidence around puberty. Males predominated in both diseases more so in hepatoblastoma. Presenting symptoms in both diseases were very similar, most commonly an upper abdominal mass or abdominal enlargement associated with anorexia and weight loss. In the preoperative evaluation the presence of alpha-feto protein was one of the most helpful diagnostic tests. Disturbances of liver function were usually mild but were more marked in those children with hepatocellular carcinoma. Preoperative x-rays were abnormal in a large percentage of cases with the hepatic arteriogram and vena cavagram being the most useful diagnostic x-rays for liver tumors. Liver scans were positive for liver tumor in 95% of the children when this test was carried out. The follow-up for these patients ranged from 2 to 10 yr. The size of the primary tumor did not appear to correlate with survival but bilateral location of the tumor, 33% in hepatoblastoma and 45% in hepatocellular carcinoma, made many of these tumors inoperable. Multicentric tumors were also found in a large number of patients, being more common in hepatocellular carcinoma. There was a high rate of local recurrence or local extension after operation in both diseases, and metastatic spread was similar being most common to the lungs and abdomen. A wide variety of surgical procedures were carried out in these patients from biopsy only to extended hepatic lobectomy. When incomplete excision or biopsy only was carried out no patient survived in either group. Among the hepatoblastoma patients, 45 of 78 patients who had complete excision are surviving. In the hepatocellular carcinoma patients where the operability rate was much lower 12 of 33 patients are surviving when tumor was completely excised. Complications were frequent, the most common being excessive blood loss at operation. There were eight operative deaths and 17 postoperative deaths in the combined group. There was no evidence that radiation therapy or chemotherapy controlled disease which could not be completely excised surgically. The only direct evidence of a favorable effect of radiation and chemotherapy were three cases of hepatoblastoma in which the tumor changed from inoperable to operable by a combination of radiation therapy and multiple drug chemotherapy. Both tumors are highly malignant, and 90% of the children who died of hepatoblastoma died within 12 mo of diagnosis. In the hepatocellular carcinoma 80% of the deaths occurred within 1 yr of diagnosis. At this time it seems that operative excision offers the only chance of cure in children with these tumors and cure rates of 60% can be expected with hepatoblastoma and 33% in hepatocellular carcinoma if the tumor can be completely excised.

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