Is preoperative hepatic arterial chemoembolization safe and effective for hepatocellular carcinoma?

T Harada, K Matsuo, T Inoue, S Tamesue, T Inoue, H Nakamura
Annals of Surgery 1996, 224 (1): 4-9

OBJECTIVE: The value of preoperative transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has not been duly appreciated. The authors assessed the advantages and disadvantages of preoperative TACE by reviewing their experience with the procedure.

METHODS: A total of 140 patients who underwent hepatectomy for HCC were entered into the study (105 received preoperative TACE and 35 did not). The authors investigated the reduction of tumor size and the complications after TACE, as well as the relationship between the interval from TACE to resection and the occurrence of complications. They compared postoperative morbidity and mortality between the TACE and non-TACE groups. They also compared survival and disease-free survival between the two groups, as well as between subgroups, defined by the extent of tumor necrosis achieved with TACE.

RESULTS: A distinct reduction of tumor size was observed in approximately half of the TACE group. However, there were 68 appreciable complications of TACE in 56 patients (53.3%), and the interval between TACE and resection was significantly prolonged in the patients with complications. The postoperative morbidity and mortality rates of the TACE group were not different from those of the non-TACE group. Preoperative TACE did not improve the survival or disease-free survival of the whole patient group after hepatectomy. In addition, the survival and disease-free survival rates of the three TACE subgroups were not different from those of the non-TACE group.

CONCLUSIONS: Preoperative TACE should only be performed to reduce tumor bulk in patients with HCC with borderline resectability. In such patients, increased tumor resectability appears to improve the survival rate. Preoperative TACE does not promote tumor recurrence.

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