Objective: To observe the long-term effects of combined transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) and radiotherapy for patients with large hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and to analyze the prognostic factors.
Methods: A total of 107 patients with large unresectable HCC (the largest diameter of tumor ranged from 5 to 18 cm) were treated with TACE followed by external-beam irradiation. Acute effects and survival rates were observed. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to analyze the prognostic factors.
Results: An objective response was achieved in 48.6% of the cases. The cumulative survival rates at 1, 3, and 5 years were 59.4%, 28.4%, and 15.8%, respectively. The tumor number and irradiation dose were the independent prognostic factors. The cumulative survival rates of the patients with a solitary lesion (75.8%, 43.9%, and 26.8% at 1, 3, and 5 years, respectively) were significantly higher than those with multiple lesions (31.3%, and 5.0% at 1 and 3 years, respectively, P=0.0005). The survival rates of the patients received irradiation above 40 Gy (95.8%, 74.7%, and 37.4% at 1, 3, and 5 years, respectively) were significantly higher than those received 20~40 Gy (60.9%, 20.7%, and 10.3%, respectively) and those received radiation lower than 20 Gy (26.7%, 7.1%, and 7.1%, respectively, P=0.0001).
Conclusions: Combined TACE with radiotherapy is a promising treatment for large unresectable HCC. The number of tumor is the most important clinical prognostic factor. Delivering the highest irradiation dose within the tolerance of the liver is the key to improve the long-term effect.