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Improved survival with oral administration of enteric-coated tegafur/uracil for advanced stage IV-A hepatocellular carcinoma


Correspondence: Dr T Ichida, Department of Internal Medicine III, Niigata University School of Medicine, Asahimachidori-1, Niigata 951-8122, Niigata, Japan. Email:


Background and Aims: There is currently no proven chemotherapy regimen for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The principal chemotherapeutic approach in most cases is infusion therapy into the hepatic arteries feeding the tumors. However, the clinical effects of chemotherapy are extremely poor. Therefore, in the present study, we conducted a prospective randomized trial of the efficacy of oral administration of enteric-coated tegafur/uracil for advanced HCC.

Methods: From 1994 to 1999, a total of 56 consecutive patients with unresectable stage IV-A HCC were studied prospectively to examine the efficacy of enteric-coated tegafur/uracil in HCC and to determine the significant prognostic factors. Twenty-eight patients were treated only with enteric-coated tegafur/uracil without other anticancer treatment. Another 20 patients were given conservative management only. The remaining eight patients withdrew from the study.

Results: In the group treated only with enteric-coated tegafur/uracil, the median survival time and 1 and 2 year survival rates were 12.13 months and 55.3 and 36.9%, respectively. In the control group, the median survival time and 1 year survival rate were 6.20 months and 5.5%, respectively. By both univariate analysis and multivariate analysis using Cox's proportional hazards model, treatment with enteric-coated tegafur/uracil was shown to be the factor most significantly favoring a better prognosis.

Conclusions: Although the prognosis of most patients with stage IV-A HCC is poor, administration of enteric-coated tegafur/uracil induces long-term survival and is an effective treatment for stage IV-A HCC.