Repeat radiofrequency ablation provides survival benefit in patients with intrahepatic distant recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma

Yusuke Okuwaki, Takahide Nakazawa, Shigehiro Kokubu, Hisashi Hidaka, Yoshiaki Tanaka, Juichi Takada, Masaaki Watanabe, Akitaka Shibuya, Tsutomu Minamino, Katsunori Saigenji
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2009, 104 (11): 2747-53

OBJECTIVES: Intrahepatic distant recurrence (IDR) of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after curative treatment occurs frequently and influences the prognoses. The aim of this study was to determine prognostic factors affecting survival after IDR and the optimum therapy for IDR.

METHODS: A total of 115 patients with a single small primary HCC who had complete radiofrequency (RF) ablation were enrolled in this study. The prognostic factors and the optimum therapy affecting survival were statistically analyzed among patients with IDRs.

RESULTS: IDRs were observed in 59 (51.3%) patients with the median observation period of 19.6 months. The cumulative rates of IDRs were 11.8, 53.9, and 75.8% at 1, 3, and 5 years, respectively. IDR nodules were present as a single nodule in 38 patients and as multiple nodules in 21 patients. In all, 23 patients died during the follow-up. A total of 30 patients were treated with RF ablation, and 27 were treated with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE). The overall cumulative survival rates after IDRs were 92.7, 55.4, and 43.7% at 1, 3, and 5 years, respectively. A multivariate analysis showed that treatment with RF ablation for IDR was a significant favorable prognostic factor after IDR (hazard ratio: 0.167, 95% confidence interval: 0.048-0.584, P=0.005). In a comparison of survival after IDR between patients treated with RF ablation and TACE, who were comparable with clinical and tumoral characteristics, the cumulative survival rate of patients treated with RF ablation was significantly higher than that of those treated with TACE (77.2 vs 28.5% at 3 years). The cumulative survival rates obtained from the initial RF ablation of the patients with IDRs treated with repeat RF ablation were similar to those of recurrence-free patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Repeat RF ablation should be attempted for IDR as much as possible despite tumor multiplicity for survival benefit; by reducing the need, it will help solve the problem of the current shortage of donors for liver transplantations.

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