Downstaging disease in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma outside up-to-seven criteria: Strategies using degradable starch microspheres transcatheter arterial chemo-embolization

World J Hepatol. 2015 Jun 28;7(12):1694-700. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v7.i12.1694.


Aim: To evaluate the downstaging rates in hepatitis C virus-patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), treated with degradable starch microspheres transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (DSM-TACE), to reach new-Milan-criteria (nMC) for transplantation.

Methods: This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of our institution. From September 2013 to March 2014 eight patients (5 men and 3 women) with liver cirrhosis and multinodular HCC, that did not meet nMC at baseline, were enrolled in this study. Patients who received any other type of treatment such as termal ablation or percutaneous ethanol injection were excluded. DSM-TACE was performed in all patients using EmboCept(®) S and doxorubicin. Baseline and follow-up computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging was assessed measuring the longest enhancing axial dimension of each tumor according to the modified Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors measurements, and medical records were reviewed.

Results: DSM-TACE was successfully performed in all patients without major complication. We treated 35 lesions (mean 4.3 per patient). Six of eight patients (75%) had their HCC downstaged to meet nMC. Every patient whose disease was downstaged eventually underwent transplantation. The six patients who received transplant were still living at the time of this writing, without recurrence of HCC. Baseline age (P = 0.25), Model for End-stage Liver Disease score (P = 0. 77), and α-fetoprotein level (P = 1.00) were similar between patients with and without downstaged HCC.

Conclusion: DSM-TACE represents a safely and effective treatment option with similar safety and efficacy of conventional chemoembolization and could be successfully performed also for downstaging disease in patients without nMC, allowing them to reach liver transplantation.

Keywords: Degradable starch microspheres; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver transplantation; Locoregional therapies; New-Milan-criteria; Recurrence-free survival; Transcatheter arterial chemoembolization.