Università di Pavia, Clinica Chirurgica I, Fondazione I.R.C.C.S. Policlinico San Matteo, Unità di Chirurgia Epato-Biliare. email@example.com
Hepatic fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC) is an uncommon tumour that differs from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in demographics, condition of the affected liver, tumour markers, and prognosis. FLC characteristically manifests as a large hepatic mass in adolescents or young adults with female predominance (mean age 23 years). Cirrhosis, elevated alpha-fetoprotein levels, and risk factors for HCC such as viral hepatitis are typically absent. FLC is usually associated with serum tumour markers such as vitamin B12 binding protein, and neurotensin. FLC is characterized pathologically by cords of tumour cells surrounded by abundant collagenous fibrous tissue arranged in a parallel or lamellar distribution. FLC usually appears on radiologic images as a lobulated heterogeneous mass with a central scar in an otherwise normal liver. The clinical presentation of patients with FLC is variable. These patients commonly have pain, and palpable right upper quadrant abdominal mass. An uncommon presenting sign is gynaecomastia in men. Use of percutaneous biopsy (FNAB) is beneficial if there is diagnostic uncertainty about the radiologic diagnosis (US, CT MRI). Although FLC is frequently recurrent, patients have a better prognosis than those with HCC, and aggressive surgical liver resection with extended lymphadenectomy or liver transplantation may be indicated. The presence of advanced-stage disease, direct invasion of adjacent organs, lymphadenopathy, or limited metastasis does not preclude attempts at curative resection. In inoperable cases, the patient may benefit from chemotherapy, permitting in up to 50% of these cases a curative resection. The case is reported of a 18-year-old man with bilateral gynecomastia secondary to an unknown hepatic fibrolamellar carcinoma producing oestrogens. Serum alpha-fetoprotein was negative; des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) level was elevated. CT scan and MRI showed a solid hepatic tumour (theta 10 cm) without evidence of extrahepatic spreading. By a needle biopsy a fibrolamellar carcinoma was diagnosed. On March 1995 a right hemihepatectomy was performed. The postoperative course was uneventful and the patient recovered. Specimen's histologic examination confirmed the preoperative diagnosis. Intracellular (hepatocytes) oestrogens were found, but oestrogen and androgen receptors were negative. After surgery DCP and oestradiol levels rapidly decreased and gynaecomastia disappeared. A follow-up program was established. On April 2000 a probable recurrence within the caudate lobe was discovered by a liver CT scan without evidence of extrahepatic spreading. Tumour markers, FNAB, and bone scintigraphy were negative. On July 2000 the patient underwent second look laparotomy. Only a coeliac lymphadenopathy was found and a lymphadenectomy performed. Specimen's histologic examination showed a metastatic lymph nodal disease (FLC). The postoperative course was uneventful and the patient recovered. He is currently alive without evidence of recurrence 5 years after the second operation.