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Keywords:

  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • lipiodol;
  • meta-analysis;
  • postoperative;
  • transarterial chemoembolization

Aim:  The efficacy of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) for inoperable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is positive, but for postoperative HCC, many studies have reported controversial results. The present study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of postoperative adjuvant TACE for participants with HCC.

Methods:  Electronic and manual searches were conducted to identify randomized controlled trials (RCT) evaluating postoperative adjuvant TACE for participants with HCC.

Results:  Six RCT totaling 659 participants, of whom almost all were of stage IIIA HCC, were included. For the 1-year tumor recurrence rate, hepatectomy plus TACE showed statistically significant less incidence of recurrence, with a pooled risk ratio (RR) of 0.68 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.55–0.84, P = 0.0003). For 1-year mortality, the trials were favorable for TACE with a pooled risk ratio of 0.48 (95% CI = 0.35–0.65, P < 0.00001). For 3-year mortality, the trials also revealed statistically significant less incidence, with a pooled risk ratio of 0.76 (95% CI = 0.64–0.90, P = 0.002). However, for 5-year mortality, TACE did not demonstrate statistically significant less incidence (RR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.81–1.08, P = 0.36). Transient fever and nausea/vomiting were reported as side-effects of TACE but were well tolerated by most participants.

Conclusion:  Postoperative adjuvant TACE seems promising for participants with HCC with risk factors (multiple nodules of >5 cm or vascular invasion) but requires further trial.