Low Alpha-Fetoprotein Levels Are Associated with Improved Survival in Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients with Portal Vein Thrombosis

Brian I. Carr, Vito Guerra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Macroscopic portal vein thrombosis (PVT) is a common and dire prognostic feature of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and often precludes many treatments as a result. Little is known about its causes or mechanisms or clinical associations. Aims: To examine patients with PVT in order to possibly identify prognostically different subsets. Methods: A large cohort of non-curable patients with advanced and biopsy-proven HCC in which survival was documented, were retrospectively examined. Results: We analyzed a large HCC cohort containing 366 (63.3 %) PVT-positive patients and found that PVT is associated with patients having larger tumors and higher levels of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and des-gamma carboxyprothrombin (DCP). We identified in patients with normal bilirubin levels (≤2.0 mg/dl) two PVT-positive patients, having higher and lower AFP levels, respectively. They differed in the significantly better prognosis of the low AFP patients, which may be useful for patient management decisions. Conclusions: Patients with PVT are heterogeneous with respect to AFP levels. AFP-negative patients have a significantly better survival than those who have elevated AFP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937-947
Number of pages11
JournalDigestive Diseases and Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016



  • AFP
  • DCP
  • Portal vein thrombosis
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology

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