Hepatocellular Carcinoma Extrahepatic Metastasis in Relation to Tumor Size and Alkaline Phosphatase Levels

Brian I. Carr, Vito Guerra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is known to metastasize. However, there are few reports on patients with metastasis at the time of HCC diagnosis. Aims: To evaluate the incidence and characteristics of extrahepatic metastasis patients presenting at baseline with noncurable, advanced HCC. Results: The total HCC cohort was initially dichotomized into 2 subcohorts, with (n = 214) and without (n = 719) extrahepatic metastasis (‘metastasis'), and patient baseline characteristics were compared. The main findings for patients with metastasis (22.9% of total cohort) compared with other, nonmetastatic patients were: more advanced tumors, as judged by larger tumor diameters, more tumor multifocality and percent with portal vein thrombosis, higher blood α-fetoprotein and des γ-carboxy prothrombin levels and alkaline phosphatase (ALKP), but not bilirubin levels, and a lower incidence of cirrhosis. There was a strong correlation between increases in tumor size and percent of patients with metastasis. A subset of patients with larger tumors was identified with low blood ALKP levels and better survival. Survival in the total metastasis cohort was lower than in the non-metastasis cohort, as expected, but only in patients with smaller tumors. In patients with larger tumors, survival with or without metastasis was similar and poor. Conclusions: There was a lower incidence of cirrhosis in HCC patients with metastasis, and they had larger and more aggressive primary tumors. Patients with smaller, but not larger, tumors and metastasis had worse prognosis than patients without metastasis. A distinct subset of metastatic patients was identified that had better prognosis and low ALKP levels.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 12 2016


  • Alkaline phosphatase#
  • Cirrhosis
  • Extrahepatic metastasis
  • Tumor size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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