BACKGROUND: The interplay of carbohydrate antigen 19-9 (CA19-9) and tumor burden score (TBS) within intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma remains ill-defined. We evaluated the roles of TBS and CA19-9 relative to overall survival (OS) and recurrence, as well as the predictive ability of the combined TBS and CA19-9 (CTC) grading system.STUDY DESIGN: Patients undergoing liver resection for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma between 2000 and 2020 were identified using a multi-institutional database. The impact of CA19-9 and TBS on 5-year OS and 3-year recurrence was assessed, along with the prognostic accuracy of the CTC grading system (ie the composite score of CA19-9 level and TBS).RESULTS: Among 831 patients, the median age was 58.2 years and 482 (58.0%) were male. The median [IQR] CA19-9 level was 49.7 [17.0, 221.0] U/mL and TBS was 6.1 [4.1, 8.3]. Median [IQR] and 5-year OS were 36.9 [32.3, 43.1] months and 38.9%, respectively; 3-year recurrence was 68.9%. Five-year survival varied relative to CA19-9 (low vs high, 49.0% vs 19.7%) and TBS (low vs high, 53.6% vs 26.9%) (p < 0.001 for both). On multivariable analysis, high CA19-9 (hazard ratio [HR] 2.02, 95% CI 1.64 to 2.49) and high TBS (HR 1.64, 95% CI 1.32 to 2.06) remained independently associated with OS. In turn, the CTC grading score stratified 5-year OS (low vs intermediate vs high CTC, 57.7% vs 39.9% vs 12.6%; p < 0.001) and remained an independent prognostic factor (referent, low CTC; [intermediate CTC] HR 1.54, 95% CI 1.18 to 2.01; [high CTC] HR 3.28, 95% CI 2.47 to 4.36). CONCLUSIONS: The interplay between tumor morphology and biology dictates long-term prognosis after liver resection for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Prognostic models such as the CTC grading system may inform discussions around prognosis, as well as help identify which patients with ICC may benefit more from neoadjuvant chemotherapy rather than up-front surgery. (J Am Coll Surg 2023;236:804-813. (c) 2023 by the American College of Surgeons. Published by Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.)
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