Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is beneficial for selected patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Design and Setting
A prospective comparison study in a tertiary hospital.
November 21, 1995, to May 2, 2001, with a mean follow-up of 939 days.
A total of 157 TACE treatments were performed in 88 patients with unresectable HCC: 132 treatments in 69 patients with focal HCC (F-HCC) and 25 treatments in 19 patients with diffuse HCC (D-HCC).
Transarterial chemoembolization consisted of selective catheterization and intra-arterial infusion of a mixture of doxorubicin hydrochloride, cisplatin, and mitomycin followed by embolization. Sequential treatments were performed for bilobar HCC.
Main Outcome Measures
Child-Pugh classification and clinical outcomes, including α-fetoprotein (AFP) response, length of hospital stay, readmission rate, and survival, were compared between patients with F-HCC and D-HCC following TACE using the χ2 test, Fisher exact test, or t test (2-tailed, unpaired).
Fifty-eight patients (84%) in the F-HCC group and 18 patients (95%) in the D-HCC group had cirrhosis. For those patients with cirrhosis, 58 (100%) in the F-HCC group and 14 (78%) in the D-HCC group had a Child-Pugh score of A or B (P = .002). The mean baseline AFP was higher in the D-HCC group: 55 577 vs 7815 ng/mL in the F-HCC group (P = .001). Of the patients secreting AFP, 4 (29%) of 14 in the D-HCC group and 30 (68%) of 44 in the F-HCC group had a significant decrease in AFP 1 month following TACE (P = .01). The mean hospital stay was longer (3 vs 1.9 days; P = .001), and readmissions occurred more frequently (44% vs 9%; P<.001) in the D-HCC group. The mean survival rate was significantly higher in the F-HCC group: 425 vs 103 days (P<.001).
In patients with F-HCC, TACE is well tolerated and provides a survival benefit. However, there is no apparent benefit for patients with D-HCC. Importantly, tumor characteristics and hepatic reserve are essential criteria for successful TACE.