In two consecutive series of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), we compared clinico-laboratory and ultrasonographic characteristics, diagnostic work-up, survival of untreated patients and, finally, therapeutic choices. In addition of the clinical examination, we tested for blood serum α-fetoprotein levels, HBsAg and anti-HCV antibodies. Ultrasonography was performed in all the patients. In most cases, a pathologic diagnosis was obtained by ultrasound-guided fine-needle biopsy. As curative treatment we considered open surgery, percutaneous alcohol injection and radio frequency thermal ablation. In the second series, we observed an increased number of patients with compensated cirrhosis and with small HCCs, therefore the number of patients undergoing a potentially curative treatment was higher. The percentage of multiple tumours was comparable in the two series implying the presence of two kinds of HCC, different ‘ab initio’. The survival rate of untreated patients was better in the second series.

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