Survival in untreated hepatocellular carcinoma: A national cohort study

Young Ae Kim, Danbee Kang, Hyeyoung Moon, Donghyun Sinn, Minwoong Kang, Sang Myung Woo, Yoon Jung Chang, Boram Park, Sun Young Kong, Eliseo Guallar, Soo Yong Shin, Geunyeon Gwak, Joung Hwan Back, Eun Sook Lee, Juhee Cho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to analyze the proportion, characteristics and prognosis of untreated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients in a large representative nationwide study. A cohort study was conducted using the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) database in Korea. A total of 63,668 newly-diagnosed HCC patients between January 2008 and December 2013 were analyzed. Patients were categorized into treatment group and no treatment group using claim codes after HCC diagnosis. The proportion of untreated HCC patients was 27.6%, decreasing from 33.4% in 2008 to 24.8% in 2013. Compared to treated patients, untreated patients were more likely to be older (P< 0.001), female (P< 0.01), to have a distant SEER stage (P< 0.001), severe liver disease (P< 0.001), and lower income (P< 0.001). The fully-Adjusted hazard ratio for all-cause mortality comparing untreated to treated patients was 3.11 (95% CI, 3.04 3.18). The risk of mortality was higher for untreated patients in all pre-defined subgroups, including those with distant SEER stage and those with severe liver disease. About one fourth of newly diagnosed HCC patients did not receive any HCC-specific treatment. Untreated patients showed higher risk of mortality compared to treated patients in all subgroups. Further studies are needed to identify obstacles for HCC treatment and to improve treatment rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0246143
JournalPloS one
Issue number2 February
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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