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Am Surg. 2019 Feb 1;85(2):150-155.

Efficacy of Radiofrequency Ablation versus Transarterial Chemoembolization for Patients with Solitary Hepatocellular Carcinoma ≤3 cm.


Optimal treatment for small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) ≤ 3 cm remains controversial. Ablation and chemoembolization are considered for nonoperative candidates. This study compares survival among patients with solitary HCC ≤ 3 cm treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) and transarterial chemoembolization (TACE). Patients diagnosed with HCC ≤ 3 cm between 2005 and 2014 were included. Kaplan-Meier survival functions with log-rank tests were used to estimate recurrence-free survival and overall survival (OS) survival. Among 161 patients with solitary HCC ≤ 3 cm, 145 patients with mean age of 65.2 years (±9.2) and 95 per cent prevalence of cirrhosis had operative treatment or TACE, and/or RFA. From this cohort, 27 (19%) patients had TACE, 27 (19%) patients had RFA, and 15 (10%) patients had TACE/RFA. The patients treated with definitive TACE, RFA, or TACE/RFA had a similar 1-year recurrence-free survival (23% vs 27% vs 36%, respectively, P = 0.445) and similar 5-year OS (21% vs 24% vs 33%, respectively, P = 0.287). Thirty-five (24%) patients were bridged to transplantation with TACE and/or RFA. The 5-year OS was significantly improved in patients bridged to transplantation (P < 0.001). Survival does not differ between patients with solitary HCC ≤ 3 cm treated with TACE or RFA. Patients who were bridged to transplantation had significantly greater OS compared with patients who were not transplanted.

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