Reappraisal of repeated transarterial chemoembolization in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma with portal vein invasion


  • This study was partially supported by research grant (2007-399) from the Asan Institute for Life Sciences, Seoul, Korea.

Dong-Jin Suh, Department of Internal Medicine, Asan Medical Center, 388-1 Pungnap-Dong, Songpa-Gu, Seoul 138-736, Korea. Email:


Background and Aim:  This study aimed to evaluate the therapeutic efficacy and safety of repeated transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) with additional radiation therapy (RT) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with portal vein (PV) invasion.

Methods:  We performed survival analysis of consecutive HCC patients with PV invasion according to the treatment modalities after stratification by the degree of PV invasion and liver function retrospectively.

Results:  During 2005, 281 patients were newly diagnosed to have HCC with PV invasion at our institution. Repeated TACE or transarterial chemoinfusion (TACI) was performed in 202 (71.9%) patients and additional RT was performed for PV invasion in 43 of them. A total of 281 patients had a median survival of 5.2 months and a 2-year survival rate (YSR) of 19.2%. Repeated TACE showed significant survival benefits compared with conservative management in patients with PV branch invasion; median survival and 2-YSR was 10.2 vs 2.3 months and 33.7% vs 0% in Child–Pugh A categorized patients and 5.5 vs 1.3 months and 10.3 vs 0% in Child–Pugh B categorized patients, respectively (P < 0.001). In patients with PV branch invasion, the survival rate was significantly longer with TACE/TACI plus RT than with TACE/TACI alone both in Child–Pugh A categorized patients (1-YSR: 63.6 vs 35.6%, P = 0.031) and Child–Pugh B categorized patients (1-YSR: 66.7 vs 7.7%, P = 0.007). Repeated TACE was well tolerated in our patients, with only one dying within one month after TACE.

Conclusion:  Repeated TACE with additional RT can be performed safely and showed a significant survival benefit in HCC patients with PV branch invasion with conserved liver function.