Analysis of recurrence pattern and its influence on survival outcome after radiofrequency ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma

Kelvin K Ng, Ronnie T Poon, Chung-Mau Lo, Jimmy Yuen, Wai Kuen Tso, Sheung-Tat Fan
Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery: Official Journal of the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2008, 12 (1): 183-91

BACKGROUND: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is an effective local ablation therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with favorable long-term outcome. There is no data on the analysis of recurrence pattern and its influence on long-term survival outcome after RFA in HCC patients.

AIM OF STUDY: To evaluate the tumor recurrence pattern and its influence on long-term survival in patients with HCC treated with RFA.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: From April 2001 to January 2005, 209 patients received RFA using internally cooled electrode as the sole treatment modality for HCC. Among them, 117 patients (56%) had unresectable HCC because of bilobar disease, poor liver function, and/or high medical risk for resection; whereas 92 patients (44%) underwent RFA as the primary treatment for small resectable HCC. The ablation procedure was performed through percutaneous (n=101), laparoscopic (n=17), or open approaches (n=91). The tumor recurrence pattern and long-term survival were analyzed. Multivariate analysis was carried out to identify independent prognostic factors affecting the overall survival of patients.

RESULTS: The mortality and morbidity rates were 0.9 and 15.7%, respectively. Complete tumor ablation was achieved in 192 patients (92.7%). With a median follow-up period of 26 months, local recurrence occurred in 28 patients (14.5%). Same segment and different segment intrahepatic recurrence occurred in 30 patients (15.6%) and 78 patients (40.6%), respectively. Twenty patients (10.4%) developed distant extrahepatic metastases. The overall 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates were 87.2, 66.6, and 42%, respectively. Different segment intrahepatic recurrence and distant recurrence after RFA carried significant poor prognostic influence on overall survival outcome. Using multivariate analysis, Child-Pugh grade (risk ratio [RR]=2.918, 95% confident interval [CI] 1.704-4.998, p=0.000), tumor size (RR=1.231, 95% CI 1.031-1.469, p=0.021), and pattern of recurrence (risk ratio [RR]=1.464, 95% CI 1.156-1.987, P=0.020) were identified as independent prognostic factors for overall survival.

CONCLUSION: The tumor recurrence pattern after RFA carries significant prognostic value in relation to overall survival. Long-term regular surveillance and aggressive treatment strategy are required for patients with different segment intrahepatic recurrence to optimize the benefits of RFA.

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