Multimodal image-guided tailored therapy of early and intermediate hepatocellular carcinoma: Long-term survival in the experience of a single radiologic referral center



The best treatment policy for some patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and compensated cirrhosis is still controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the long-term survival and related prognostic factors of patients with early and intermediate HCC (Liver Unit of Barcelona classification) treated in a radiologic referral center by a multimodal image-guided tailored therapy (MIGTT), applied over time, choosing the procedure patient by patient according to the presentation of the disease. Between May 1996 and May 2003, 374 patients (210 with early and 164 with intermediate HCC) were treated with MIGTT. Radiofrequency ablation was considered the first choice; ethanol injection was preferred for nodules at risk for radiofrequency; and selective chemoembolization was preferred for nodules not recognizable at ultrasound examination, those not retreatable after an unsuccessful ablation technique, or for satellites. The rate of perioperative mortality and major complications was 0.2% and 4.5%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates were 90%, 69%, and 49% and 83%, 43%, and 28% for patients with early and intermediate HCC, respectively. At the univariate analysis, the indicators of a poor prognosis were Child's class B, portal hypertension, abnormal bilirubin, infiltrating tumor, and abnormal serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) level. In conclusion, within the limits of historical comparisons, in early HCC, MIGTT should be considered an appropriate option for unresectable patients or for resectable patients presenting with adverse prognostic factors. In intermediate HCC, the 3-year survival rate obtained with MIGTT was better than the best survival rate reported with conventional chemoembolization; however, the benefit for patients presenting with poor prognostic factors remains unclear. (Liver Transpl 2004;10:S98–S106.)