• combined chemotherapy;
  • hepatic toxicity;
  • hepatoma;
  • radiotherapy

Aim:  The purpose of the present study was to analyze hepatic toxicity following radiotherapy combined with regional chemotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods:  From 2001 to 2003, a total of 132 patients with HCC received 3-D conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) combined with chemotherapy. Patients were divided into two groups based on drug localization: the transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) group, where the chemotherapeutic drug (adriamycin) was localized within the tumor, and the non-TACE group, where the drugs (adriamycin, cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil) were diffusely spread over the entire liver.

Results:  Patients were evaluated by biochemical parameters for any hepatic toxicity prior to, during, and until 12 months after 3D-CRT. Hepatic toxicity was defined as radiation-induced liver disease (RILD) or combined modality-induced liver disease (CMILD), which is defined as RILD with abnormal elevation of total bilirubin levels. In the TACE group, three patients developed RILD (5.6%) and none developed CMILD. In the non-TACE group, three patients (3.7%) and seven patients (8.8%) developed RILD and CMILD, respectively.

Conclusion:  Hepatic toxicity following radiotherapy combined with regional chemotherapy for HCC might be influenced by the distribution of the chemotherapeutic drugs. A more precise understanding of hepatic toxicity from chemoradiotherapy will help design optimal treatments for HCC.