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J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2018 Apr;29(4):540-549.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jvir.2017.11.033. Epub 2018 Feb 22.

Transarterial Chemoembolization within First 3 Months of Sorafenib Initiation Improves Overall Survival in Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Retrospective, Multi-Institutional Study with Propensity Matching.

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Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, 3900 Woodland Avenue, Bldg 21, Room A422, Philadelphia, PA 19014. Electronic address:
Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut.
Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, 3900 Woodland Avenue, Bldg 21, Room A422, Philadelphia, PA 19014; Department of Radiology, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.



The impact of transarterial chemoembolization after initiation of sorafenib (SOR) has not been prospectively compared with SOR alone in unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The objective of this study was to assess whether SOR + transarterial chemoembolization provides benefit over SOR alone in this setting.


A retrospective cohort study with propensity matching using data from patients prescribed SOR for HCC at Veterans Health Administration hospitals from 2007 to 2015. The primary outcome was overall survival from the time of SOR prescription and stratified by receipt of transarterial chemoembolization within 90 days of SOR initiation.


A total of 4,896 patients received SOR for HCC, of whom 232 (4.7%) underwent transarterial chemoembolization within 90 days. Patients receiving transarterial chemoembolization + SOR were highly selected, being younger and with less significant hepatic dysfunction, earlier Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage (P < .0001), and fewer tumors with lower rates of macrovascular invasion (MVI) and metastases (all P < .0001) than SOR-alone patients. In unadjusted analysis, SOR + transarterial chemoembolization was associated with reduced mortality (hazard ratio [HR] 0.61, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.53-0.71; P < .0001). After propensity matching, SOR + transarterial chemoembolization continued to show significant associations with reduced mortality with HR 0.75 (95% CI 0.62-0.92; P = .0005). Subgroup analysis suggests that the addition of transarterial chemoembolization to SOR improves outcomes in most patients, particularly those with Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score <15, platelets >50,000/μL, and >3 tumors with or without macrovascular invasion, without local invasion or metastases.


Patients with unresectable HCC started on systemic therapy with SOR appear to benefit from adjuvant transarterial chemoembolization. Optimal application of multimodal therapy in this setting should be prospectively investigated.

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