Results of immunohistochemistry in the differential diagnosis of early hepatocellular carcinoma and nodules with high-grade dysplasia in patients with cirrhosis

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Abstract

Background - Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most frequent primary cancer of the liver and cirrhosis is considered a pre-malignant disease. In this context, the evolutionary sequence from low grade dysplastic nodule and high grade dysplastic nodule (HGDN) to early HCC and advanced HCC has been studied. The differential diagnosis between HGDN and early HCC is still a challenge, especially in needle biopsies Objective To evaluate an immunohistochemistry panel to differentiate dysplastic nodules and HCC. Methods - Patients with cirrhosis who underwent surgical resection or liver transplantation were included. The sensitivity, specificity and accuracy for the diagnosis of neoplasia were analyzed by evaluating five markers: Heat shock protein 70, glypican 3, glutamine synthetase, clathrin heavy chain and beta-catenin. P<0.05 was considered statistically significant. Results - One hundred and fifty-six nodules were included; of these, 57 were HCC, 14 HGDN, 18 low grade dysplastic nodules and 67 regenerative macronodules. Sensitivity of HCC diagnosis was 64.9% for glypican 3 and 77.2% for glutamine syntetase, while specificity was 96.0% and 96.0% respectively. When the panel of four markers was considered (excluding beta catenin), the specificity ranged from 87.9% for one positive marker to 100% for at least three markers. The best accuracy for HCC diagnosis was obtained with at least two positive markers, which was associated with a sensitivity of 82.5% and specificity of 99%. Conclusion - Differential diagnosis of dysplastic nodules and HCC by morphological criteria can be challenging. Immunomarkers are useful and should be used for the differential diagnosis between HCC and HGDN.

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Coral, G. P., Branco, F., Meurer, R., Marcon, P. D. S., Fontes, P. R. O., & De Mattos, A. A. (2021). Results of immunohistochemistry in the differential diagnosis of early hepatocellular carcinoma and nodules with high-grade dysplasia in patients with cirrhosis. Arquivos de Gastroenterologia, 58(1), 82–86. https://doi.org/10.1590/s0004-2803.202100000-14

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