Optimal adjuvant therapy for resected hepatocellular carcinoma: a systematic review with network meta-analysis
The intrahepatic recurrence rate is extremely high, even after radical resection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). One report showed intra-arterial administration of epirubicin to be effective in the treatment of nonresectable HCC. We evaluated the effect of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy including this drug. Fifty-seven patients who had undergone radical resection of HCC were entered in this study. Using the sealed-envelope method, 27 patients were assigned to a group undergoing resection only and 29 patients to a group also receiving adjuvant chemotherapy after resection. The protocol of the chemotherapy was intra-arterial administration of epirubicin (40 mg/m2) at 1 month after resection followed by intravenous administration of epirubicin (40 mg/m2) every 3 months for 2 years. In addition, 1-hexylcarbamoyl-5-fluorouracil (HCFU; carmofur), 300 mg/d, was administered orally every day, beginning from 1 month after the resection and continuing (in principle) for 24 months. The clinicopathologic backgrounds were well randomized between the two groups. The chemotherapy protocol was performed completely in only five patients (7.2%). Twenty-four (82.8%) patients had to cease the protocol due to various reasons: change to a new therapy after recurrence of HCC in 19 cases (79.2%), severe side effects of the chemotherapy in three cases (12.5%), liver failure in one case (4.2%), and a postoperative complication in one case (4.2%). The mean total doses were 128 +/- 114 mg for epirubicin and 144 +/- 84 g for HCFU. The cumulative overall and disease-free survival rates for 5 years were not significantly different between the two groups. The results of this prospective randomized study suggest that this adjuvant chemotherapy protocol with epirubicin and HCFU after radical resection of HCC was not effective.