Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with portal venous invasion (PVI) has a very poor prognosis, with a median survival of 3 months and virtually no survival at 1 year. The combination of intraarterial 5-fluorouracil (FU) and systemic interferon-α (IFNα) was recently reported to be effective against HCC with PVI, but these were small pilot studies.
One hundred and sixteen patients with HCC with PVI received IFNα (5,000,000 U intramuscularly on Days 1, 3, and 5 of each week of treatment) and 5-FU (500 mg into hepatic artery on Days 1-5 of the first and second week of each 4-week cycle). The therapy was either terminated at the end of the first cycle in cases with progressive disease, or continued for at least 3 cycles, when responses to treatment were evaluated by Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group criteria. The survival rate was compared with that of historical controls (n = 40).
Nineteen (16%) patients showed complete response and another 42 (36%) showed partial response. Adverse events were limited to nausea and appetite loss. The survival rates at 12 and 24 months among overall patients were 34% and 18%, respectively, in contrast to 15% and 5% among the historical controls. Survival rates at 12 and 24 months were 81% and 59% among complete responders, respectively, and 43% and 18% among partial responders.
The combination therapy with 5-FU and IFN was safe, and substantially improved the survival rate among the complete responders. These results provide a rationale for future randomized controlled trials. Cancer 2006. © 2006 American Cancer Society.