Li-Shuai Qu, Jin-Xia Liu, Jing Zhu, Cui-Hua Lu
Background. A retrospective cohort study was conducted to investigate the effect of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) level on prognosis in low viral load (< 2000 IU/mL) patients with hepatitis B-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after curative resection. Material and methods. A total of 192 patients with low viral load who had received curative resection of pathologically confirmed HCC were analyzed to determine the factors affecting prognosis. The risk factors for survival, early and late recurrence (2 years as a cut-off) were studied. Results. The median follow-up time was 38.5 months. The overall survival rates at 1-, 3-, and 5-year after curative resection were 94.2%, 64.0%, and 45.2%, respectively. The cumulative recurrence rates at 1-, 3, and 5-year after curative resection were 22.4%, 46.5%, and 67.0%, respectively. Patients with high serum HBsAg levels (> 250 IU/mL) had significantly lower survival rates than those with low HBsAg levels (HR: 1.517, 95% CI: 1.005-2.292, P = 0.047). Stratified analysis showed that patients with high HBsAg levels had a significantly higher late recurrence incidence than those with low HBsAg levels (HR: 2.155, 95% CI: 1.094-4.248, P = 0.026), but did not have a significantly higher risk of early recurrence postoperatively (HR: 1.320, 95% CI: 0.837-2.082, P = 0.233). Multivariate analysis revealed that HBsAg > 250 IU/mL was an independent risk factor associated with late recurrence (HR: 2.109, 95% CI: 1.068-4.165, P = 0.032). Conclusions. HBsAg > 250 IU/mL at the time of tumor resection was an independent risk factor for late recurrence in low viral load HCC patients.
Key words. HBsAg level, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Curative resection, Prognosis