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Arch Surg. 2002 Jun;137(6):653-7; discussion 657-8.

Comparison of transarterial chemoembolization in patients with unresectable, diffuse vs focal hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Comprehensive Liver Disease Center, St Vincent Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90057, USA.



Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is beneficial for selected patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


A prospective comparison study in a tertiary hospital.


November 21, 1995, to May 2, 2001, with a mean follow-up of 939 days.


A total of 157 TACE treatments were performed in 88 patients with unresectable HCC: 132 treatments in 69 patients with focal HCC (F-HCC) and 25 treatments in 19 patients with diffuse HCC (D-HCC).


Transarterial chemoembolization consisted of selective catheterization and intra-arterial infusion of a mixture of doxorubicin hydrochloride, cisplatin, and mitomycin followed by embolization. Sequential treatments were performed for bilobar HCC.


Child-Pugh classification and clinical outcomes, including alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) response, length of hospital stay, readmission rate, and survival, were compared between patients with F-HCC and D-HCC following TACE using the chi(2) test, Fisher exact test, or t test (2-tailed, unpaired).


Fifty-eight patients (84%) in the F-HCC group and 18 patients (95%) in the D-HCC group had cirrhosis. For those patients with cirrhosis, 58 (100%) in the F-HCC group and 14 (78%) in the D-HCC group had a Child-Pugh score of A or B (P =.002). The mean baseline AFP was higher in the D-HCC group: 55 577 vs 7815 ng/mL in the F-HCC group (P =.001). Of the patients secreting AFP, 4 (29%) of 14 in the D-HCC group and 30 (68%) of 44 in the F-HCC group had a significant decrease in AFP 1 month following TACE (P =.01). The mean hospital stay was longer (3 vs 1.9 days; P =.001), and readmissions occurred more frequently (44% vs 9%; P<.001) in the D-HCC group. The mean survival rate was significantly higher in the F-HCC group: 425 vs 103 days (P<.001).


In patients with F-HCC, TACE is well tolerated and provides a survival benefit. However, there is no apparent benefit for patients with D-HCC. Importantly, tumor characteristics and hepatic reserve are essential criteria for successful TACE.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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