Surgical resection versus radiofrequency ablation in the treatment of small unifocal hepatocellular carcinoma

M Abu-Hilal, J N Primrose, A Casaril, M J W McPhail, N W Pearce, N Nicoli
Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery 2008, 12 (9): 1521-6

BACKGROUND: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has a high worldwide prevalence and mortality. While surgical resection and transplantation offers curative potential, donor availability and patient liver status and comorbidities may disallow either. Interventional radiological techniques such as radiofrequency ablation (RFA) may offer acceptable overall and disease-free survival rates.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Sixty-eight cirrhotic patients matched for age, sex, tumor size, and Child-Pugh grade with small (1-5 cm) unifocal HCC were studied retrospectively to find determinants of overall and disease-free survival in those treated with surgical resection and RFA between 1991 and 2003.

RESULTS: Multivariate analysis using Cox proportional regression modeling showed that overall survival was related to tumor recurrence (p = 0.010), tumor diameter (p = 0.002), and treatment modality (p = 0.014); overall p = 0.008. Recurrence was independently related to the use of RFA over surgery (p = 0.023) on multivariate analysis; overall p = 0.034.

CONCLUSION: Surgical resection offers longer disease-free survival and potentially longer overall survival than RFA in patients with small unifocal HCC.

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