Survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma treated by transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE) using Drug Eluting Beads. Implications for clinical practice and trial design

J Hepatol. 2012 Jun;56(6):1330-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2012.01.008. Epub 2012 Feb 5.


Background & aims: Transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE) improves survival of properly selected patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Drug eluting beads (DEB) provide a calibrated and homogenous procedure while increasing efficacy. Outcome data applying this technology is lacking, and this is instrumental for clinical decision-making and for trial design. We evaluated the survival of HCC patients treated with DEB-TACE following a strict selection (preserved liver function, absence of symptoms, extrahepatic spread or vascular invasion).

Methods: We registered baseline characteristics, the development of treatment-related adverse events, and the overall survival of all HCC patients treated by DEB-TACE from February 2004 to June 2010.

Results: One hundred and four patients were treated with DEB-TACE. All but one were cirrhotic, 62.5% HCV+, 95% Child-Pugh A, 41 BCLC-A and 63 BCLC-B. Causes of DEB-TACE treatment in BCLC-A patients were: 35 unfeasible ablation, and six post-treatment recurrences. After a median follow-up of 24.5 months, 38 patients had died, two patients had received transplantation and 24 had received sorafenib because of untreatable tumour progression. Median survival of the cohort was 48.6 months (95% CI: 36.9-61.2), while it was 54.2 months in BCLC stage A and 47.7 months in stage B. Median survival after censoring follow-up at time of transplant/sorafenib was 47.7 (95%CI: 37.9-57.5) months.

Conclusions: These data validate the safety of DEB-TACE and show that the survival expectancy applying current selection criteria and technique is better than that previously reported. A 50% survival at 4 years should be considered when suggesting treatment for patients fitting into controversial scenarios such as expanded criteria for transplantation/resection for multifocal HCC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Benzenesulfonates / administration & dosage
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Female
  • Hepatic Artery
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Niacinamide / analogs & derivatives
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines / administration & dosage
  • Research Design
  • Sorafenib


  • Benzenesulfonates
  • Phenylurea Compounds
  • Pyridines
  • Niacinamide
  • Sorafenib