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Cancer. 1988 May 1;61(9):1884-8.

Hepatocellular carcinoma. A retrospective analysis of treatments to manage disease confined to the liver.

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  • 1Division of Medicine, University of Texas, M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston.


The histories of 73 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) confined to the liver who were seen at M. D. Anderson Hospital between January 1976 and December 1983 were reviewed. In 18 patients the tumor was resected either at the outset or after the patients' response to chemotherapy; nonsurgical treatments consisted of hepatic arterial infusion (HAI) in 10 patients and intravenous (IV) therapy in four patients. Patients who had resection were younger, and their liver functions and performance status were better than the IV and HAI groups. Their median survival was 46 months. Of the patients who had nonresectable tumors, 28 received chemotherapy by HAI and 27 received IV therapy. Of the 28 patients in the HAI treatment group, 25 received uniform infusion of floxuridine (FUDR, Roche, Australia), doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and mitomycin C (FUDRAM). Of the 27 patients in the IV treatment group, 15 received 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and doxorubicin-containing regimens; in 11 patients 5-FU was combined with other agents. The HAI and IV treatment groups were similar in age and ethnicity, performance status, serum alpha-fetoprotein levels, liver function, presence of hepatitis B antigen, and presence or absence of cirrhosis. The median survival was 9 months for HAI-treated patients and 5 months for the IV-treated group. The statistical differences were resection versus HAI, P less than 0.01; resection versus IV, P less than 0.01; HAI versus IV, P less than 0.01. Thirteen of 18 patients who had resections, six of 28 patients treated with HAI, and two of 27 IV-treated patients survived 2 years or more. It is concluded that for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma confined to the liver, the option of tumor resection either at the beginning of treatment or after chemotherapy offers the best chances for long-term survival. The overall prognosis is poor for patients with nonresectable hepatocellular carcinoma, but arterial infusion chemotherapy may double the median survival as compared to IV chemotherapy.

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