Background and Aims: The present study was carried out to test the hypothesis that interferon-α (IFN-α) treatment would reduce or postpone the recurrence rate and improve the overall survival rate in patients after transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) related unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Methods: 216 patients with unresectable HBV-related HCC were randomized into a TACE group and a TACE-IFN group, each group had 108 patients. In the TACE-IFN group, patients received IFN-α1b at a dose of 3 million units (mu) three times a week by intramuscular injection one week after/before TACE treatment, for 48 weeks.
Results: The median disease-free survival in the TACE-IFN treatment group was 23.6 months (95% CI: 21.4–25.8) and 20.3 months (95% CI: 15.8–24.8) in the TACE group (P = 0.027). The disease free rate at 24 months in the TACE group was lower than in the TACE-IFN group (39.8% vs 59.3%, P = 0.004). The median overall survival was 29 months (95% CI: 27.5–32.1) in the TACE-IFN group and 26 months (95% CI: 20.1–31.9) in the TACE group (P = 0.003). The 2-year overall survival in the TACE-IFN group was higher than in the TACE group (72.2% vs 52.8%, P = 0.003).
Conclusions: IFN-α treatment reduced recurrence and improved the survival of patients after TACE treatment of HBV-related HCC, with acceptable toxicities.