Aim: To investigate the efficacy of transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) combined with radiotherapy for unresectable large hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Methods: From June 1994 to June 1999, a total of 76 patients with large unresectable HCC were treated with TACE followed by external-beam irradiation. 89 patients with large HCC, who underwent TACE alone during the same period, served as the control group. Clinical features, therapeutic modalities, acute effects and survival rates were analyzed and compared between TACE plus irradiation group and TACE alone group. A multivariate analysis of nine clinical variables and one treatment variable (irradiation) was performed by the Cox proportional hazards model.
Results: The clinical features and therapeutic modalities except irradiation between the two groups were comparable (P>0.05). The objective response rate (RR) in TACE plus irradiation group was higher than that in TACE alone group (47.4 % vs 28.1 %, P<0.05). The overall survival rates in TACE plus irradiation group (64.0 %, 28.6 %, and 19.3 % at 1, 3, 5 years, respectively) were significantly higher than those in TACE alone group (39.9 %, 9.5 %, and 7.2 %, respectively, P=0.0001). Cox proportional hazards model analysis showed that tumor extension and Child grade were significant and were independent negative predictors of survival, while irradiation was an independent positive predictor of survival.
Conclusion: TACE combined with radiotherapy is more effective than TACE alone, and is a promising treatment for unresectable large HCC.