Appropriate treatment strategies for intrahepatic recurrence after curative resection of hepatocellular carcinoma initially within the Milan criteria: according to the recurrence pattern

Xiaoyun Zhang, Chuan Li, Tianfu Wen, Lunan Yan, Bo Li, Jiayin Yang, Wentao Wang, Mingqing Xu, Wusheng Lu, Li Jiang
European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology 2015, 27 (8): 933-40

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate appropriate treatment strategies for recurrent intrahepatic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients who fulfilled the Milan criteria at primary hepatectomy.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of 124 patients who underwent curative-intent resection of HCC at our center between January 2007 and March 2014 were retrospectively enrolled; patients had initially fulfilled the Milan criteria, but developed intrahepatic recurrence. Seventy-four patients underwent transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) and another 50 patients underwent repeat resection (RR) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA). The recurrent HCCs were classified into intrahepatic metastasis and multicentric occurrence by pathologic analysis. Demographic and clinical data and overall survival rates were compared between the RR/RFA and the TACE groups. Subgroup analysis on the basis of the recurrence pattern (early recurrence or late recurrence) was carried out, and prognostic factors for survival were investigated.

RESULTS: The 1-, 3-, and 5-year overall survival rates for the 124 patients after retreatment were 88.3, 55.4, and 44.3%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year overall survival rates after retreatment were not significantly different between the RR/RFA and the TACE groups (P=0.140). Subgroup analysis showed that for late recurrence, survival in the RR/RFA group was better than those of patients in the TACE group (P=0.045).

CONCLUSION: TACE may be as effective as RR or RFA for early intrahepatic recurrence, whereas RR/RFA is the preferred option for patients with late recurrence after curative resection of HCC who initially fulfilled the Milan criteria. Prognosis was determined by the number of recurrent tumors and the Child-Pugh class at the time of recurrence.

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