Long-term follow-up outcome of patients undergoing radiofrequency ablation for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma

Junji Machi, Racquel S Bueno, Linda L Wong
World Journal of Surgery 2005, 29 (11): 1364-73
The long-term outcome of radiofrequency thermal ablation (RFA) for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has not been reported. This study was performed to evaluate the long-term survival of patients with unresectable HCC after RFA and to identify possible factors that might affect survival. In this prospective study, 65 patients with unresectable HCC who underwent RFA were followed. A total of 84 RFA operations were performed percutaneously (n = 49), laparoscopically (n = 20), or by open surgery (n = 15), to ablate 191 tumors. Twenty-two patients died within 16 months; otherwise, the follow-up period was at least 16 months, up to 71 months, with median 20.0 months and mean (+/- standard deviation) 24.8 +/- 18.4 months for all patients. Local tumor recurrence developed in 12 of 191 tumors (6.3%) in 11 of 84 operations (13.1%), or 11 of 65 patients (16.9%). New liver and/or extrahepatic recurrence developed in 48 operations (57.1%). The overall median, mean, and 5-year survivals were 40.0 months, 33.7 +/- 2.9 months, and 39.9%. The disease-free survivals were 16.0 month, 32.9 +/- 3.0 months, and 27.9%. Factors that had a significant effect on survival outcome after RFA were TNM cancer stage and the operative approach method employed for RFA. Age, gender, race, etiology, alpha-fetoprotein, previous or subsequent treatment, and liver function (Child-Pugh class) did not affect survival. For patients with unresectable HCC, RFA is an effective and repeatable local treatment that can afford long-term survival, although often with disease recurrence.

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