Limitation of repeated radiofrequency ablation in hepatocellular carcinoma: Proposal of a three (times) 3 (years) index

Department of Gastroenterology, Division of Clinical Medicine, Fukuoka University, Fukuoka, Japan.
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Impact Factor: 3.5). 03/2012; 27(6):1044-50. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2012.07134.x
Source: PubMed


Percutaneous radiofrequency ablation (RFA) has been shown to be a highly effective treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated the controllability of HCC and explored the algorithm of therapeutic strategy for HCC in patients who met the RFA criteria.
We enrolled 472 patients with HCC who met the RFA criteria (≤ 3 nodules, ≤ 3 cm) and underwent RFA for initial therapy. Patients who underwent repeated RFA were evaluated retrospectively when HCC exceeded the RFA criteria, or the functional hepatic reserve progressed to Child-Pugh grade C.
Overall survival rates were: 1 year, 96%; 3 years, 79%; and 5 years, 56%. In 5 years, 14% of patients progressed to Child-Pugh grade C. Meanwhile, 47% of patients exceeded the RFA criteria. Annually, 8% of patients deviated from the RFA criteria. The percentage of patients who were able to receive RFA significantly decreased at the fourth session compared with up to the third session. The survival rates decreased at the rate of 7% annually until the third year after the initial RFA. Afterwards, it shifted to a decrease at the rate of 12% annually. In a multivariate analysis, the presence of hepatitis C virus infection and the existence of a single tumor were identified as significant independent factors contributing to probabilities exceeding the RFA criteria.
HCC was controlled by RFA up to three RFA treatments and 3 years from the initial therapy. On this basis, we propose a "three (times) × 3 (years) index" for considering a shift from RFA to other treatment modalities.

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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate long-term outcomes of radiofrequency (RF) ablation as first-line therapy for single hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) ≤ 3 cm and to determine survival and prognostic factors. We included all 184 patients who underwent RF ablation as a first-line treatment for single HCC ≤ 3 cm between April 2005 and December 2013. According to the criteria of Livraghi, the 184 patients were divided into two groups: those suitable for surgical resection (84 cases) and those unsuitable for surgical resection (100 cases). The primary endpoints were the overall survival (OS) rate and safety; the secondary endpoints were primary technique effectiveness and recurrence rate. There were 19 (10.3%) cases of ablation related minor complications. The complete tumor ablation rate after one RF session was 97.8% (180/184). The rate of local tumor progression, extrahepatic metastases and intrahepatic distant recurrence were 4.9% (9/184), 9.8% (18/184) and 37.5% (69/184), respectively. In the 184 patients, the 1-, 3-, and 5-year OS rates were 99.5%, 81.0%, and 62.5%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year OS rates were 100%, 86.9%, and 71.4%, respectively, in those suitable for surgical resection and 99.0%, 76.0%, and 55.0%, respectively, in those unsuitable for surgical resection (P = 0.021). On univariate and multivariate analyses, poorer OS was associated with Child-Pugh B class and portal hypertension (P < 0.05). RF ablation is a safe and effective treatment for single HCC ≤ 3 cm. The OS rate of patients suitable for surgical resection was similar to those reported in surgical series.
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