Aims: Numerous postoperative therapies for preventing recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) have been reported, but their efficacy remains controversial and knowledge about adverse effects is limited. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was performed to gain a comprehensive picture of the efficacy and risks of these therapies.
Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched through July 2011. Risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.
Results: A total of 2989 patients from 28 RCTs involving 10 postoperative therapies were included. For interferon therapy, the estimated RR for the 2-year recurrence rate was 0.84 (95% CI 0.73-0.97, P = 0.02) and the overall survival (OS) was 1.15 (95% CI 1.07-1.22, P < 0.001). Postoperative therapy with the vitamin K2 analog did not lead to a significant reduction in the 1-year recurrence rate, with a pooled RR of 0.60 (95% CI 0.28-1.27, P = 0.18). However, it did slightly improve the 1-year OS, with a pooled RR of 1.03 (95% CI 1.00-1.05, P = 0.03). Transarterial chemotherapy with or without embolization, adoptive immunotherapy and heparanase inhibitor PI-88 therapy may delay tumor recurrence. The effects of acyclic retinoid, lipiodol-iodine-131 and tumor vaccine treatment were promising but require further study. All postoperative therapies except interferon administered intramuscularly were well tolerated by the majority of patients.
Conclusions: Use of adjuvant interferon is definitely associated with an increase in OS. Postoperative therapies involving acyclic retinoid, lipidol-iodine-131, or tumor vaccine may improve the OS of patients with HCC after curative treatment.
© 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.