Hepatocellular carcinoma invading portal venous system in cirrhosis: long-term results of percutaneous radiofrequency ablation of both the nodule and portal vein tumor thrombus. A case control study

Antonio Giorgio, Giorgio Calisti, Luca Montesarchio, Umberto Scognamiglio, Paolo Matteucci, Carmine Coppola, Ferdinando Scarano, Ferdinando Amendola, Valentina Giorgio
Anticancer Research 2014, 34 (11): 6785-90

UNLABELLED: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death. Portal vein tumor thrombus (PVTT) is one of the most dreadful complications of HCC and is associated with a median survival time of 2.7-4.0 months. The optimal treatment for HCC with PVTT has not yet been established. The aim of the present study was to report long-term results of percutaneous radiofrequency (RF) ablation of both HCC single nodule (up to 5 cm in diameter) and neoplastic main portal vein thrombus, compared to no-treatment.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: From January 2005 to January 2010, out of 2,847 consecutive cirrhosis patients, 672 had HCC and main portal vein tumor thrombus (MPVTT); among these, 57 had a single HCC with MPVTT. Thirty-five patients with 35 single HCC nodules (ranging from 3.7 to 5 cm in diameter) underwent percutaneous RF ablation of both the nodule and the thrombus (cases); 22 patients refused RF ablation or any other treatment (controls).

RESULTS: A complete necrosis of HCC nodules associated with re-canalization of main portal trunk (MPT) and its branches were observed in 26 patients (success rate=74%). The 1-, 3- and 5-year cumulative survival rates of patients were 63%, 30% and 20%, respectively. The 12-month cumulative survival rate of controls was 0% (p<0.0001). The difference was statistically significant (p<0.001; harzard ratio (HR)=2.88; 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.57-5.39). The 3- and 5-year cumulative disease-free survival rates of the patients were 35% and 22%, respectively. No deaths occurred.

CONCLUSION: RF ablation of HCC and the accompanying MPVTT significantly prolongs long-term survival compared to no-treatment. The procedure is safe and should be considered as a new and effective tool in the treatment of advanced HCC.

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