Trans-catheter arterial chemoembolisation for hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with viral cirrhosis: role of combined staging systems, Cancer Liver Italian Program (CLIP) and Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD), in predicting outcome after treatment


Prof Roberto Testa, Gastroenterology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine (DI.M.I), Viale Benedetto XV n°6, 16132 Genova, Italy.


Background:  Trans-catheter arterial chemoembolisation (TACE) is the most common palliative treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The therapeutic options depend both on the characteristics of the tumour and on functional staging of the cirrhosis.

Aim:  To evaluate the effects of TACE on the survival of cirrhotic patients with HCC according to different staging systems [Okuda score, Cancer Liver Italian Program (CLIP) score, Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score] and in relation to the side-effects of TACE.

Methods:  Fifty cirrhotic patients, 36 CTP class A and 14 class B, underwent 106 TACE treatments with mitoxantrone. Survival at 12, 24, and 36 months was evaluated.

Results:  MELD at 12 months and CLIP at 24 months were identified as significant variables associated with survival. Combined cut-offs of CLIP and of MELD identified four subgroups of patients with different survivals, at 12, 24 and 36 months, respectively: CLIP ≥ 2 and MELD ≥ 10 (63%, 20% and 0%), CLIP < 2 and MELD ≥ 10 (73%, 40% and 22%), CLIP ≥ 2 and MELD < 10 (73%, 40% and 22%) and CLIP < 2 and MELD < 10 (100%, 63% and 50%). Post-TACE side-effects proved to have no influence on survival.

Conclusion:  In patients with poor probability of survival (CLIP ≥ 2 and MELD ≥ 10), TACE must be planned with a great deal of caution, while in patients with possibly good outcomes (CLIP < 2 and MELD < 10), more ‘aggressive’ therapy should be taken into consideration.