Surgical Delay Is Associated with Improved Survival in Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Results of the National Cancer Database

Kerui Xu, Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway, Fedja A. Rochling, Paraskevi A. Farazi, K. M. Monirul Islam, Hongmei Wang, Jiangtao Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the fastest growing causes of cancer-related death in the USA. Studies that investigated the impact of HCC therapeutic delays are limited to single centers, and no large-scale database research has been conducted. This study investigated the association of surgical delay and survival in HCC patients. Methods: Patients underwent local tumor destruction and hepatic resection for stages I–III HCC were identified from the 2004 to 2013 Commission on Cancer’s National Cancer Database. Surgical delay was defined as > 60 days from the date of diagnosis to surgery. Generalized linear-mixed model assessed the demographic and clinical factors associated with delay, and frailty Cox proportional hazard analysis examined the prognostic factors for overall survival. Results: A total of 12,102 HCC patients met the eligibility criteria. Median wait time to surgery was 50 days (interquartile range, 29–86), and 4987 patients (41.2%) had surgical delay. Delayed patients demonstrated better 5-year survival for local tumor destruction (29.1 vs. 27.6%; P =.001) and resection (44.1 vs. 41.0%; P =.007). Risk-adjusted model indicated that delayed patients had a 7% decreased risk of death (HR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.87–0.99; P =.027). Similar findings were also observed using other wait time cutoffs at 50, 70, 80, 90, and 100 days. Conclusions: A plausible explanation of this finding may be case prioritization, in which patients with more severe and advanced disease who were at higher risk of death received earlier surgery, while patients with less-aggressive tumors were operated on later and received more comprehensive preoperative evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-943
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 15 2019


  • Cancer survival
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • National Cancer Database
  • Surgical delay
  • Wait time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Gastroenterology


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