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Radiology. 2014 Mar;270(3):900-9. doi: 10.1148/radiol.13130940. Epub 2013 Oct 30.

Radiofrequency ablation of hepatocellular carcinoma as first-line treatment: long-term results and prognostic factors in 162 patients with cirrhosis.

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From the Department of Radiology (D.H.L., J.M.L., J.Y.L., S.H.K., J.K.H., B.I.C.), Institute of Radiation Medicine (J.M.L., J.Y.L., S.H.K., J.K.H., B.I.C.), and Department of Internal Medicine (J.H.Y., Y.J.K.), Seoul National University Hospital, 101 Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-744, South Korea.



To evaluate the long-term outcomes of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) as a first-line therapy for early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and determine the prognostic factors for survival.


The institutional review board approved this retrospective study. From January 2006 to December 2007, 162 consecutive patients with cirrhosis (Child-Pugh class A and B, 137 and 25 patients, respectively) who underwent RFA as a first-line treatment for up to three HCCs with a maximum diameter of 5 cm (182 HCCs; mean diameter ± standard deviation, 2.59 cm ± 0.79; 17 multinodular forms) were included. After a mean follow-up of 50.3 months ± 19.9, results were analyzed for tumor recurrence, as well as overall and recurrence-free survival time. The Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards regression model were used to evaluate the prognostic factors.


The cumulative incidence of local tumor progression (LTP) was 14.5% at 5 years, with tumor size as the only significant predictive factor (relative risk = 2.13, P = .007). Overall 5-year survival and recurrence-free survival rates were 67.9% and 25.9%, respectively. Significant predictive factors for poor overall survival were Child-Pugh class B (relative risk = 2.43, P = .011), serum α-fetoprotein level (relative risk per 100 units = 1.01; P < .001), and presence of portosystemic collaterals (relative risk = 2.15, P = .025). The development of LTP significantly shortened median recurrence-free survival (28.0 months without LTP vs 12.0 months with LTP) and necessitated a higher number of interventional procedures (2.2 sessions without LTP vs 5.1 sessions with LTP).


RFA is a safe and effective first-line treatment for early-stage HCC, with a 5-year survival rate of 67.9%. High serum α-fetoprotein level, advanced Child-Pugh class, and presence of portosystemic collateral vessels had a significant negative effect on overall survival.

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