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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2000 Jul 15;47(5):1331-5.

Local radiotherapy for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma patients who failed with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, Yonsei University Medical College, Seoul, South Korea.



The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of local radiotherapy (RT) as a salvage treatment for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients who failed with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE).


Patients with unresectable HCC who had been treated with and eventually failed with TACE were eligible. The judgment of TACE failure was based on incomplete tumor filling of lipiodol-adriamycin mixture on either angiography or computed tomography (CT) scan. From January 1993 to December 1997, 27 patients were entered into this study. They had UICC Stage III (17) or IVA (10) disease, with a mean tumor size of 7.2 +/- 2.9 cm. Local RT was done, with a mean tumor dose of 51.8 +/- 7.9 Gy, in daily 1.8-Gy fractions using a 10- or 6-MV linear accelerator. Survival was calculated from both the diagnosis and the start of RT using the Kaplan-Meier method.


An objective response was observed in 16 of 24 patients (66.7%) including 1 CR. Intrahepatic metastasis was noted outside the RT field in 10 patients (37.0%). Extrahepatic distant metastasis occurred in 4 patients. Survival rates at 1, 2, and 3 years were 85. 2%, 58.1%, and 33.2%, respectively, from the diagnosis and 55.9%, 35. 7%, and 21.4%, respectively, from the start of RT. The median survivals were 26 months from the diagnosis and 14 months from the start of RT. Acute toxicity involved alteration in liver function test (13 patients) and thrombocytopenia (2 patients). Subacute and chronic toxicity involved gastroduodenal ulcer (3 patients) and duodenitis (2 patients). There was no treatment-related death.


In unresectable HCC patients who failed with TACE, local RT induced a substantial tumor response of 66.7%, with a 3-year survival rate of 21.4% and a median survival time of 14 months. Toxicity was significant but manageable. Although we do not know if there is survival benefit through this treatment, local RT in these patients seems to be valuable as a salvage for TACE-failed HCC.

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