Background: Non-curative (debulking) hepatic resection for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is occasionally applied for selected cases with bulky tumors or for oncologic emergency cases; however, the clinical usefulness of this procedure has not yet been fully evaluated. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the patient outcomes of non-curative hepatic resections for HCC using data from bi-annual nationwide surveys conducted in Japan. Method: Data of 1084 non-curative hepatic resections for HCC were collected. The patient outcomes were compared with those of curative resections, transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE), and hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy (HAIC). Results: Patient survival after the non-curative resection was poorer than that after curative resection (P < 0.001) and was especially dismal in cases with extrahepatic tumor spread (lymph node metastasis, peritoneal seeding, or distant metastasis). As compared to cases receiving TACE without surgery, non-curative resections for multiple intrahepatic tumors were applied to cases with advanced tumors with good liver functional reserve. The survival outcomes were significantly more favorable in the TACE group, but the results became similar after propensity score matching of the patients. The survival outcome of patients receiving non-curative resections was better than that of cases treated by HAIC, with median survival times of 26.0 months and 10.0 months, respectively. Conclusion: The indications for non-curative hepatic resection in patients with HCC should be judged cautiously, especially in patients with extrahepatic tumor spread. This treatment approach may be beneficial for selected patients with intermediate- or advanced-stage HCC limited in liver and with good liver functional reserve.
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