Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology
Gastrointestinal Tract - Original Article

Preoperative Alpha-Fetoprotein Has No Prognostic Role in Small Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Non-Cirrhotic Patients After Surgical Resection


Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Clinical Medical College, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, China


Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Dalian Medical University, The Second Clinical College, Dalian, China

Turk J Gastroenterol 2021; 32: 133-140
DOI: 10.5152/tjg.2020.20156
Read: 881 Downloads: 402 Published: 01 February 2021

Background: Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) has been widely used as a tumor marker in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with cirrhosis. However, a large number of HCC patients are diagnosed without cirrhosis, and the prognostic capability of AFP was unclear in HCC patients without cirrhosis. Our purpose was to investigate the prognostic efficiency of AFP in patients with non-cirrhosis, single, and small HCC who were treated with surgical resection.

Methods: Among the 111 374 liver cancer patients included in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, we selected 224 patients without cirrhosis with a single HCC ≤3 cm in diameter who were identified at diagnosis and treated with surgical resection. The AFP test results were recorded as AFP-positive and AFP-negative levels.

Results: Kaplan–Meier method showed that there was no significant survival difference between the AFP-positive and AFP-negative groups (P = .566). The same results were found in the subgroups of patients with tumor size ≤2 cm and 2-3 cm (P = .710 and .687, respectively). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis showed that AFP had inadequate accuracy to discriminate survivors and deceased patients in subgroups of patients with tumor size ≤3 cm, 2-3 cm, or ≤2 cm (area under the ROC curve = 0.449, 0.458, 0.443; 95% confidence interval = 0.366-0.533, 0.346-0.571, 0.317-0.569, respectively).

Conclusion: AFP levels have no predictive value in well-compensated non-cirrhosis patients with single, small HCC (≤3 cm) treated with surgical resection for curative intent.

Cite this article as: Gao T, Bai D, Qian J, et al. Preoperative alpha-fetoprotein has no prognostic role in small hepatocellular carcinoma in non-cirrhotic patients after surgical resection. Turk J Gastroenterol. 2021; 32(2): 133-140.

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