Transarterial chemoembolization versus surgery/radiofrequency ablation for recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma with or without microvascular invasion

Young-Joo Jin, Jin-Woo Lee, Oh Hyun Lee, Hyun Jung Chung, Young Soo Kim, Jung Il Lee, Soon Gu Cho, Yong Sun Jeon, Kun Young Lee, Seung-Ik Ahn, Woo Young Shin
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2014, 29 (5): 1056-64

BACKGROUND/AIMS: Microvascular invasion (MVI) is a well-known prognostic factor of postoperative recurrence and of overall survival (OS) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We compared the treatment outcomes of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) and surgery/radiofrequency ablation (RFA) according to the presence of MVI in patients with early or late recurrent HCC that presented as Barcelona Clinical Liver Cancer (BCLC) stage 0 or A after curative resection for HCC.

METHODS: A consecutive 68 patients with recurrent HCC of BCLC stage 0 or A at our institution between 1998 and 2012 were retrospectively enrolled. We compared the outcomes of patients treated by TACE or surgery/RFA. Tumor recurrence after curative resection was classified as early (≤ 12 months) or late (> 12 months) recurrence.

RESULTS: Median tumor size was 1.5 cm (range, 1-10 cm), and 67 (98.5%) had HCCs within the Milan criteria. Median post-retreatment follow-up duration was 27 months (range, 1-109 months). Of the 68 patients, 19 (27.9%) underwent surgery/RFA, 47 (69.1%) TACE, and 2 (2.9%) were lost to follow-up. After retreatment, TACE showed significantly higher OS and recurrence-free survival rates than surgery/RFA in MVI-positive patients (P = 0.03 and P = 0.05, respectively), but not in MVI-negative patients (P = 0.95 and P = 0.98, respectively). In particular, in early recurred MVI-positive patients, TACE had a significantly higher OS rate than surgery/RFA (P = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: TACE may be the more effective treatment option for recurrent HCC of BCLC stage 0 or A than surgery/RFA in MVI-positive patients, especially in those that recur early after curative resection.

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