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Med Oncol. 2017 Apr;34(4):58. doi: 10.1007/s12032-017-0917-2. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

New concepts in embolotherapy of HCC.

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Postgraduation School in Radiodiagnostics, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy.
Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
Postgraduation School in Radiodiagnostics, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide with rapidly growing incidence rates in the USA and Europe. Despite improving surveillance programs, most patients are diagnosed at intermediate to advanced stages and are no longer amenable to curative therapies, such as ablation, surgical resection and liver transplantation. For such patients, catheter-based image-guided embolotherapies such as transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) represent the standard of care and mainstay therapy, as recommended and endorsed by a variety of national guidelines and staging systems. The main benefit of these therapies is explained by the preferentially arterial blood supply of liver tumors, which allows to deliver the anticancer therapy directly to the tumor-feeding artery while sparing the healthy hepatic tissue mainly supplied by the portal vein. The tool box of an interventional oncologist contains several different variants of transarterial treatment modalities. Ever since the first TACE more than 30 years ago, these techniques have been progressively refined, both with respect to drug delivery materials and with respect to angiographic micro-catheter and image-guidance technology, thus substantially improving therapeutic outcomes of HCC. This review will summarize the fundamental principles, technical and clinical data on the application of different embolotherapies, such as bland transarterial embolization, Lipiodol-based conventional transarterial chemoembolization as well as TACE with drug-eluting beads (DEB-TACE). Clinical data on 90Yttrium radioembolization as an emerging alternative, mostly applied for niche indications such as HCC with portal vein invasion, will be discussed. Furthermore, we will summarize the principle of HCC staging, patient allocation and response assessment in the setting of HCC embolotherapy. In addition, we will evaluate the role of cone-beam computed tomography as a novel intra-procedural image-guidance technology. Finally, this review will touch on new technical developments such as radiopaque, imageable DEBs and the rationale and role of combined systemic and locoregional therapies, mostly in combination with Sorafenib.


Chemoembolization; Embolotherapy; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Intra-arterial therapy; Radioembolization; Sorafenib

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