Preoperative prealbumin levels independently predicted survival after curative liver resection for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in a recent multicenter, retrospective study.
By contrast, preoperative albumin levels did not predict long-term overall or relapse-free survival in the analysis, which was reported by Tian Yang, MD, and Feng Shen, MD, along with their coinvestigators, in the journal.
Those findings suggest that serum prealbumin is superior to the widely used serum albumin level as a marker of nutritional status and liver function in this setting, according to Dr. Yang and Dr. Shen, who are with the department of hepatobiliary surgery at Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital, Shanghai, China.
“The importance of preoperative prealbumin level in predicting long-term prognosis after liver resection for HCC should be given adequate attention by hepatic surgeons,” they wrote in their report.
The retrospective analysis included a total of 1,483 patients with HCC newly diagnosed at one of six medical institutions in China during 2001-2014. Of those patients, 1,046 (71%) had normal prealbumin levels (above 170 mg/L) measured within a week before surgery, while the remaining 437 (29%) had low prealbumin levels.
Overall survival was a mean of 72 months for the low prealbumin group versus 99 months for the normal prealbumin group (P less than .001), with a corresponding 5-year overall survival of 31% versus 43%, respectively, investigators reported
Likewise, relapse-free survival was a mean of 56 months for the low prealbumin group versus 77 months for the normal prealbumin groups (P less than .001), with 5-year relapse-free survival rates of 20% and 28%, respectively.
In multivariable Cox-regression analyses, the hazard ratios of low preoperative prealbumin level for risk of decreased overall survival and for risk of decreased relapse-free survival were 1.45 (95% confidence interval, 1.24-1.70) and 1.28 (95% CI, 1.10-1.48), respectively.
By contrast, preoperative albumin level was not an independent predictor of either overall or relapse-free survival in multivariate analyses, according to investigators.
Despite these findings, it remains controversial as to which marker is more accurate as a measure of nutritional status, investigators wrote in their report.
While albumin is more commonly used in clinical practice, they explained, multiple studies have shown prealbumin is more specific and sensitive in evaluating protein malnutrition and liver function.
The present study, although retrospective, is multicenter, has a large sample size, and includes adequately long follow-up. Nevertheless, further studies will be required to determine whether prealbumin could replace albumin for assessments of nutritional status and liver function after curative liver resection for HCC, investigators concluded.
The research was supported in part by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Shanghai Pujiang Program. Dr. Yang, Dr. Shen, and their coauthors had no conflicts of interest to disclose.
SOURCE: Li J-D et al. HPB (Oxford). 2018 Aug 3.