Surveillance for Hepatocellular Carcinoma Also Improves Survival of Incidentally Detected Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma Arisen in Liver Cirrhosis

Francesco Tovoli, Pietro Guerra, Massimo Iavarone, Letizia Veronese, Matteo Renzulli, Stefania De Lorenzo, Francesca Benevento, Giovanni Brandi, Federico Stefanini, Fabio Piscaglia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Due to its poor survival, intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) is held to be a much more aggressive cancer than hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In most published series, patients were diagnosed when symptomatic. However, ICC is now increasingly being discovered during the surveillance for HCC in cirrhosis. Whether this earlier detection of ICC is associated with an equally dismal prognosis or not is unknown. Methods: This is amulticenter retrospective study of consecutive ICC patients. Patients were stratified into subgroups according to the absence/presence of cirrhosis. A propensity score matching was performed to reduce the potential biases. Cirrhotic patients were further stratified according to their surveillance status. The lead-time bias and its potential effects were also estimated. Results: We gathered 184 patients. Eighty-five patients (46.2%) were cirrhotic. Liver cirrhosis was not related to a worse overall survival (33.0 vs. 32.0 months, p = 0.800) even after the propensity score analysis (43.0 in vs. 44.0 months in 54 pairs of patients, p = 0.878). Among the cirrhotic population, 47 (55.3%) patients had received a diagnosis of ICC during a surveillance programme. The 2 subgroups differed in maximum tumour dimensions (30 vs. 48 mm in surveyed and non-surveyed patients, respectively). Surveyed patients were more likely to receive surgical treatments (59.8 vs. 28.9%, p = 0.003). Overall survival was higher in surveyed patients (51.0 vs. 21.0 months, p < 0.001). These benefits were confirmed after correcting for the lead-time bias. Conclusions: Cirrhotic patients have different clinical presentation and outcomes of ICC according to their surveillance status. In our series, ICC in cirrhosis was not associated with worse OS. Cirrhosis itself should not discourage either surgical or non-surgical treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)744-755
Number of pages12
JournalLiver Cancer
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Oncology


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