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Keywords:

  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • interferon-α;
  • 5-fluorouracil;
  • chemotherapy;
  • portal vein;
  • tumor thrombus

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) invading into the major branches of the portal vein (Vp3) is extremely poor.

METHODS

Eleven consecutive patients with HCC and Vp3 were treated with 2–6 cycles of a “basic” combination therapy consisting of continuous arterial infusion of 5-fluorouracil (450–500 mg/day, for the initial 2 weeks) and subcutaneous injection of interferon-α (5 million international units, 3 times/week, 4 weeks). In the first 3 patients, methotrexate (90 mg/day 1 of every week), cisplatin (10 mg/day), and leucovorin (30 mg/days 2 and 3 of every week) also were administered for the initial 2 weeks (“full” regimen).

RESULTS

In 8 (73%) of 11 patients, an objective response (complete response [CR] or partial response [PR]) was observed with marked regression of tumor and decrease in tumor markers. The use of the full regimen was associated with objective response in all patients; instead, they developed thrombocytopenia or leukopenia. In the subsequent 8 patients with basic regimen, 5 patients showed CR (2 cases) or PR (3 cases; objective response rate, 63%), and leukopenia was observed only in 1 patient.

CONCLUSIONS

Simple combination therapy with subcutaneous interferon-α and intraarterial 5-fluorouracil therefore is a promising treatment modality for intractable HCC with Vp3. Cancer 2002;94:435–42. © 2002 American Cancer Society.