Background: Beginning in 1967, the Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan (LCSGJ) started a nationwide prospective registry of all patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) diagnosed at more than 700 institutions. To determine the effectiveness of surveillance and treatment methods longitudinally, we analyzed improvements over time in overall survival (OS) of 173,378 patients with HCC prospectively entered into the LCSGJ registry between 1978 and 2005. Methods: All patients from more than 700 institutions throughout Japan with HCC were entered into the LCSGJ registry. Patients were grouped by years of diagnosis, with OS and 5-year OS rates being calculated. We also assessed OS and 5-year OS rates in patients who underwent resection, local ablation, transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), and hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy (HAIC) and in those with baseline serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels ≥400 ng/ml. Results: The 5- and 10-year OS rates in the cohort of 173,378 patients were 37.9% and 16.5%, respectively. However, over time, the mean maximum tumor size decreased significantly, whereas 5-year OS rates and median survival time increased significantly. Similar findings were observed separately in patients who underwent resection, local ablation, TACE, and HAIC, as well as in patients with AFP levels ≥400 ng/ml. Conclusion: The establishment of a nationwide HCC surveillance program in Japan has contributed to longer median OS and increased OS rates in patients diagnosed with this disease. These findings suggest that the establishment of a surveillance program in other countries with patients at risk for HCC may provide significant survival benefits.
- Hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy
- Hepatocellular carcinoma
- Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan
- Nationwide survey
- Overall survival
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