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Keywords:

  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • hepatoma;
  • chemotherapy;
  • yttrium;
  • internal radiation

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Intrahepatic arterial yttrium 90 (90Y) microspheres have been proposed as a less toxic, less invasive therapeutic option to transhepatic arterial chemoembolization (TACE) for patients with surgically unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). TACE has demonstrated the ability to prolong survival. However, long-term survival remains uncertain.

METHODS:

In a 2-cohort experience in the treatment of North American patients who had advanced, unresectable, biopsy-proven HCC, 691 patients received repetitive, cisplatin-based chemoembolization; and a separate cohort of 99 patients who had similar treatment criteria received a planned, single dose of 90Y. Over the study period, an additional 142 patients were followed without treatment (total, 932 patients).

RESULTS:

Overall survival was slightly better in the 90Y group compared with the TACE group (median survival, 11.5 months vs 8.5 months). However, the selection criteria indicated a small but significant bias toward milder disease in the 90Y group. By using stratification into a 3-tier model with patients dichotomized according to bilirubin levels <1.5 mg/dL, the absence of portal vein thrombosis (PVT), and low α-fetoprotein plasma levels (<25 U/dL), an analysis of survival in clinical subgroups indicated that the 2 treatments resulted in similar survival. In addition, patients who had PVT or high α-fetoprotein levels also had similar survival in both treatment groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Given the current evidence of therapeutic equivalence in survival, 90Y and TACE appeared to be equivalent regional therapies for patients with unresectable, nonmetastatic HCC. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.