Purpose: The effectiveness of immunotherapy for postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma patients is still controversial. To address this issue, we did a systemic review of the literatures and analyzed the data with emphasis on the recurrence and survival.
Methods: We searched six randomized controlled trials that included adoptive immunotherapy in the postoperative management of hepatocellular carcinoma and compared with non-immunotherapy postoperation. A meta-analysis was carried out to examine one- and 3-year recurrence and survival.
Results: The overall analysis revealed significantly reduced risk of 1-year recurrence in patients receiving adoptive immunotherapy (OR=0.35; 95% CI, 0.17 to 0.71; p=0.003), in that the risk of 3-year recurrence with a pooled OR estimated at 0.31 (95% CI 0.16 to 0.61; p=0.001). However, no statistically significant difference was observed for 3-year survival between groups with adoptive immunotherapy and without adjuvant treatment (OR=0.91; 95% CI, 0.45 to 1.84; P=0.792).
Conclusions: Adjuvant immunotherapy with cytokine induced killer cells or lymphokine activated killer cells may reduce recurrence in postoperative hepatocellular carcinoma patients, but may not improve survival.