Purpose: Although many patients with hepatocellular carcinoma experience recurrence within 2 years after hepatectomy, some patients with T1 and T2 hepatocellular carcinoma show recurrence-free survival for more than 5 years after surgery. This study was designed to analyze the optimal follow-up period on patients with T1 and T2 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) showing recurrence-free survival 5 years after surgery. Methods: One hundred seventy patients underwent hepatectomy from January 1995 to December 1999. Numbers of patients with T1 and T2 HCC were 76 and 73, respectively. The recurrence patterns of patients experiencing recurrence more than 5 years after liver resection were analyzed in aspect of clinic opathological features and follow-up period. Results: Thirteen patients experienced recurrence more than 5 years aft er surger y. Only age was found as a significant factor for recurrence. Eight patients were checked regularly with 6-month intervals and the others were checked with 12-month or more intervals. The size of the recurrent tumors in the 6-month interval group had a median of 1.1 cm (range, 1 to 4.2 cm) and the size of the recurrent tumors in the 12-month or more interval group had am edian of 3 cm (range, 1.6 to 4 cm). The tumor size was significantly smaller in the 6-month inter va l group. Conclusion: Though the patients with early stage HCC showed high overall survival, some patients experienced a late recurrence of more than 5 year s after surgery. Patients less than 60 years old with early stage HCC should be checked regularly with 6-month intervals even over 5 years after liver resection.
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