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Keywords:

  • elderly patients;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • radiofrequency ablation;
  • survival rate

Aim:  This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) therapy in elderly patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods:  Four hundred and sixty-one patients with naïve HCC, including 107 elderly (aged ≥75 years) patients, who were treated with RFA between 2000 and 2007, were enrolled. Baseline characteristics, survival/recurrence rates and complications after RFA were compared between elderly and non-elderly patients.

Results:  In the elderly group, the proportion of men, alcohol consumption, serum alanine aminotransferase and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase levels were significantly lower compared with those in the non-elderly group. There were no differences in Child–Pugh grade and tumor characteristics between the two groups. The cumulative survival rates in the elderly group were 82% at 3 years and 61% at 5 years, which was equivalent to the non-elderly group. Similarly, no differences were observed in recurrence rates. In multivariate analysis, Child–Pugh grade and tumor-related factors were significant factors associated with survival, but age was not. Although elderly patients had more extrahepatic comorbidities, their presence was not a factor associated with survival prognosis or complication after RFA.

Conclusion:  RFA treatment might be safe and effective in elderly patients, as well as non-elderly patients, with HCC.