Background: Early recurrence (ER) of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (within 1 year after resection) is known to be a poor prognostic factor. The aim was to identify the risk factors associated with ER after HCC resection. Methods: Data were analyzed retrospectively from patients who underwent primary resection for HCC from two hospitals. For cross-validation, HCC resection cases were divided into the training and testing cohort. The clinicopathological factors between the ER and non-ER groups and factors for predicting ER and prognosis after HCC resection were compared. Results: Out of 173 patients in the training dataset, 33 patients had ER and the ER group showed larger tumor size, more intrahepatic metastasis (IM), and a higher ratio of serum des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) to tumor volume (TV) (DCP/TV) than the non-ER group. Out of 203 patients in the testing dataset, 30 patients had ER and the ER group demonstrated larger tumor size, more IM, and higher serum alpha-fetoprotein, AFP/TV, DCP/TV, AFP/tumor maximum diameter (TMD), and DCP/TMD than the non-ER group. The patients were divided into high and low DCP/TV groups and high serum DCP/TV was associated with unfavorable overall survival in the training and testing dataset. Multivariate analysis confirmed that high serum DCP/TV and IM were independently associated with ER. Conclusion: Preoperative high serum DCP/TV may be useful for stratifying patients at risk of early HCC recurrence after curative resection.
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