Transcatheter Arterial Chemoembolization for Liver Cancer: Is It Time to Distinguish Conventional from Drug-Eluting Chemoembolization?
BACKGROUND & AIMS To elucidate the survival of the patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who underwent transcatheter arterial lipiodol chemoembolization (TACE) and to analyze the factors affecting the survivals. METHODS During the last 8 years, a nationwide prospective cohort study was performed in 8510 patients with unresectable HCC who underwent TACE using emulsion of lipiodol and anticancer agents followed by gelatin sponge particles as an initial treatment. Exclusion criteria were extrahepatic metastases and/or any previous treatment prior to the present TACE. The primary end point was survival. The survival rates were calculated by the Kaplan-Meier method. The multivariate analyses for the factors affecting survival were evaluated by the Cox proportional hazard model. The mean follow-up period was 1.77 years. RESULTS For overall survival rates by TACE, median and 1-, 3-, 5-, and 7-year survivals were 34 months, 82%, 47%, 26%, and 16%, respectively. Both the degree of liver damage and the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) system proposed by the Liver Cancer Study Group of Japan demonstrated good stratification of survivals (P = .0001). The multivariate analyses showed significant difference in degree of liver damage (P = .0001), alpha-fetoprotein value (P = .0001), maximum tumor size (P = .0001), number of lesions (P = .0001), and portal vein invasion (P = .0001). The last 3 factors could be replaced by TNM stage. The TACE-related mortality rate after the initial therapy was .5%. CONCLUSIONS TACE showed safe therapeutic modality with a 5-year survival of 26% for unresectable HCC patients. The degrees of liver damage, TNM stage, and alpha-fetoprotein values were independent risk factors for patient survival.