No patients to resect or transplant: an analysis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma admitted to a major African referral hospital

Adam Gyedu 1 , William R Shrauner, T Peter Kingham
Affiliations expand
PMID: 25167899 DOI: 10.1007/s00268-014-2762-1


Background: This study aimed to describe the characteristics of patients diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Ghana and to determine their treatment options per the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) algorithm.

Methods: We reviewed the medical records of patients diagnosed with HCC at KATH in the period 2007-2013. Patient demographics, medical history, investigations, management, and outcome were extracted. BCLC staging was applied to determine their treatment options. Results were expressed as descriptive statistics.

Results: The charts for 206/465 patients were available for review. The male:female ratio was 2:1 and mean age was 44.0 ± 14.5 years. Common presenting complaints were abdominal distension, abdominal pain, and jaundice. hepatitis B virus (HBV) positivity was 52 %. Almost all patients received only supportive treatment. None underwent surgery, ablation, or transarterial chemoembolization. BCLC staging could be completed for 118 patients. Using predicted INR values in cases without the result, < 8 % of patients were eligible for resection, transplantation, or ablation; 25-53 % were eligible for embolization or sorafenib therapy. Up to 72 % were eligible only for supportive care. Seventy-six percent of patients reviewed were discharged alive; 71 % of patients whose charts were not available died during an admission. Thus, of the 465-patient cohort, 50 % died in the hospital.

Conclusions: The majority of HCC in our population is caused by HBV. Up to 61 % of patients may be eligible for curative treatment, transarterial chemoembolization, or sorafenib treatment. This percentage may be increased with a robust surveillance program for patients at increased risk for HCC. Hepatitis B vaccination must also be a public health priority.