Proton beam therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma: a retrospective review of 162 patients

Clin Cancer Res. 2005 May 15;11(10):3799-805. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-04-1350.


Purpose: We present results of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated with proton beam therapy.

Experimental design: We reviewed 162 patients having 192 HCCs treated from November 1985 to July 1998 by proton beam therapy with or without transarterial embolization and percutaneous ethanol injection. The patients in the present series were considered unsuitable for surgery for various reasons, including hepatic dysfunction, multiple tumors, recurrence after surgical resection, and concomitant illnesses. The median total dose of proton irradiation was 72 Gy in 16 fractions over 29 days.

Results: The overall survival rate for all of the 162 patients was 23.5% at 5 years. The local control rate at 5 years was 86.9% for all 192 tumors among the 162 patients. The degree of impairment of hepatic functions attributable to coexisting liver cirrhosis and the number of tumors in the liver significantly affected patient survival. For 50 patients having least impaired hepatic functions and a solitary tumor, the survival rate at 5 years was 53.5%. The patients had very few acute reactions to treatments and a few late sequelae during and after the treatments.

Conclusions: Proton beam therapy for patients with HCC is effective, safe, well tolerable, and repeatable. It is the useful treatment mode for either cure or palliation for patients with HCC irrespective of tumor size, tumor location in the liver, insufficient feeding of the tumor with arteries, presence of vascular invasion, impaired hepatic functions, and coexisting intercurrent diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Proton Therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Protons