Single-step multimodal locoregional treatment for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma: balloon-occluded percutaneous radiofrequency thermal ablation (BO-RFA) plus transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE)
PURPOSE To evaluate the usefulness of transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) followed by radiofrequency ablation (RFA) as combined treatment for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). PATIENTS AND METHODS Thirty-six consecutive patients (cirrhosis, Child-Pugh class A or B) with solitary or oligonodular HCC were treated (41 lesions; mean size, 58.9 mm; range, 30-120 mm). RFA was performed after one TAE treatment. Local efficacy was evaluated with multiphasic computed tomography (CT) performed an average of two months after RFA and once during later follow-up. RESULTS The mean follow-up period was 16 months (range, 2-45 months). Technical success (namely, complete tumor devascularization during the arterial phase) was achieved for 59% of lesions at the first CT evaluation and for 46% at the second evaluation. Among prognostic factors included in the analysis, only lesion diameter (< 50 mm versus > or = 50 mm) was statistically significant in terms of predicting local success (Fisher's exact test: 85% versus 43% at first CT, p<0.01; 70% versus 36% during follow-up, p=0.05). There were no major periprocedural complications. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed survival rates of 84% at 12 months and 57% at 24 months. CONCLUSIONS Combined therapy--TAE then RFA--for unresectable HCC lesions in patients with cirrhosis produces a relatively high complete local response rate compared with TAE or RFA alone. Our results, considered with those from other case series, may help design prospective, randomized clinical trials to test combination therapy versus single-modality therapy in terms of risks and benefits.