Aim: Intra-arterial 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) plus interferon (IFN) combination therapy is effective against advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with portal vein tumour thrombosis. In this study, we compared the efficiency and safety of recombinant IFN-α-2b with natural IFN-α as components of the combination therapy.
Methods: Consecutive HCC patients (n=31) with portal vein tumour thrombosis were enrolled in this prospective study. They received combination therapy of 5-FU and either recombinant IFN-α-2b (R group, n=15) or natural IFN-α (N group, n=16). We compared the two groups for the early response rate, adverse reactions, time to progression (TTP) and survival rates. In addition, we assessed the cost-effectiveness of each protocol.
Results: The early response rate (R: 26.7%, N: 31.2%), median TTP (R: 5.8 months, N: 5.6 months) and median survival time (R: 7.5 months, N: 6.5 months) were not significantly different between the R and N groups. There were no differences in adverse reactions between the two groups. The estimated cost-effectiveness ratio of recombinant IFN-α-2b was better than natural IFN-α.
Conclusions: In our protocol of combination therapy, there were no significant differences between recombinant IFN-α-2b and natural IFN-α with regard to early response to therapy, adverse effects, TTP and survival rates. 5-FU could be combined with either recombinant IFN-α-2b or natural IFN-α, although the cost-effectiveness of the former warrants its use clinically.