Aim: We investigated the efficacy of hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy (HAIC) using 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and systemic interferon (IFN)-α (HAIC-5-FU/IFN) for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with venous tumor thrombosis (VTT) in the hepatic vein trunk (Vv2) or inferior vena cava (Vv3).
Methods: Thirty-three patients with HCC/Vv2/3 underwent HAIC with 5-FU (500 mg/body weight/day, into hepatic artery on days 1–5 on the first and second weeks) and IFN-α (recombinant IFN-α-2b 3 000 000 U or natural IFN-α 5 000 000 U, intramuscularly on days 1, 3 and 5 of each week). Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) was used in combination with HAIC-5-FU/IFN in 14 of 33 patients to reduce VTT.
Result: The median survival time (MST) was 7.9 months, and 1- and 2-year survival rates were 30% and 20%, respectively. Evaluation of intrahepatic response after two cycles of HAIC-5-FU/IFN showed complete response (CR) in three (9%) and partial response (PR) in seven (21%), with an objective response rate of 30%. Multivariate analysis identified reduction of VTT (P = 0.0006), size of largest tumor (P = 0.013) and intrahepatic response CR/PR (P = 0.030) as determinants of survival. CR/PR correlated significantly with tumor liver occupying rate (P = 0.016) and hepatitis C virus Ab (P = 0.010). Reduction of VTT correlated significantly with radiotherapy (P = 0.021) and platelet count (P = 0.015). Radiotherapy-related reduction in VTT significantly improved survival of 16 patients with Vv3 and non-CR/PR response of HAIC-5-FU/IFN (P = 0.028).
Conclusion: As for advanced HCC with VTT of Vv2/3, HAIC-5-FU/IFN responsive patients could obtain favorable survival. Despite ineffective HAIC-5-FU/IFN, the combination with effective radiotherapy to VTT might improve patients' prognosis.