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Oncotarget. 2018 Apr 20;9(30):21560-21568. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.25108. eCollection 2018 Apr 20.

Transarterial chemoembolization as a substitute to radiofrequency ablation for treating Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage 0/A hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.


Background and Aim:

Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is the standard procedure for treating Barcelona clinic liver cancer (BCLC) stage B hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, it is often carried out in the treatment of BCLC stage 0/A HCC for various reasons. This study aimed to elucidate the prognosis for BCLC stage 0/A HCC patients treated with TACE or with radiofrequency ablation (RFA).

Materials and Methods:

The prognosis of 242 BCLC stage 0/A HCC patients within Milan criteria who underwent initially TACE or RFA were retrospectively analyzed using propensity score matching analysis.


The analyses of baseline patient characteristics revealed that the maximum tumor size and the proportion of BCLC stage A patients were significantly higher in patients treated with TACE than in those treated with RFA (P<0.001 and 0.047, respectively). After adjusting these factors using propensity score matching (1:3 matching), patients treated with TACE (n=32) and those treated with RFA (n=96) were further analyzed. The local recurrence rate was significantly higher in the TACE group than in the RFA group (P<0.001). However, the overall survival (OS) in HCC patients treated with TACE was comparable to that in HCC patients treated with RFA (1 year, 93.5 vs. 95.8%; 3 years, 75.4 vs. 85.8%; 5 years, 61.8 vs. 70.7%; P=0.196). Multivariate analyses followed by univariate analyses revealed that serum bilirubin level (P=0.032), serum albumin level (P=0.008), HBV-DNA (P=0.013), and tumor number (P=0.021) were independent predictors of OS.


TACE can substitute RFA at least in some patients with BCLC 0/A HCC.


Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) staging; hepatocellular carcinoma; propensity score matching; radiofrequency ablation; transarterial chemoembolization

Conflict of interest statement

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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