Introduction: Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is indicated for primary hepatic tumours when resection or local ablation are not feasible. Patients undergoing TACE have a better survival than best supportive therapy. However, there is paucity of prospective studies on the quality of life (QOL) after TACE for primary hepatic malignancies, especially in the Western world.
Purpose: The primary aim of the present study was to determine if TACE impacts on the QOL of patients affected by primary hepatic tumours, and to assess treatment efficacy in a prospective cohort of patients treated at a tertiary Canadian university medical centre.
Methods: From September 2005 to December 2010, 48 candidates for TACE underwent at least one TACE session. Data on their QOL, tumour response, serum alpha fetoprotein (AFP) and survival were prospectively collected every 3–4 months.
Results: The overall QOL of patients undergoing TACE did not decline during the first 12 months after treatment. A decline was observed in the physical health domain after the third TACE that coincided with the increasing size of the largest tumour and a rise in the serum AFP levels. Psychological, social and environmental domains remained stable throughout the treatment period. Multivariate analysis revealed that tumour focality, AFP levels and model of end-stage liver disease (MELD) scores were associated with long-term survival (P= 0.001, P= 0.01, P= 0.02, respectively). The overall survival at 12, 36 and 48 months were 72%, 28% and 12%, respectively.
Conclusion: TACE is an effective palliative intervention for unresectable and non-ablatable primary liver tumours without affecting the QOL of patients even when repeated interventions are performed.