Stereotactic body radiotherapy vs. TACE or RFA as a bridge to transplant in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. An intention-to-treat analysis

J Hepatol. 2017 Jul;67(1):92-99. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2017.02.022. Epub 2017 Feb 28.


Background & aims: There is limited information on the use of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) as a bridge to liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma and no study comparing its efficacy to transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA). We aimed to ascertain the safety and efficacy of SBRT on an intention-to-treat basis compared with TACE and RFA as a bridge to liver transplantation in a large cohort of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

Methods: Outcomes between groups were compared from the time of listing and from the time of transplant. Between July 2004 and December 2014, 379 patients were treated with either SBRT (n=36, SBRT group), TACE (n=99, TACE group) or RFA (n=244, RFA group).

Results: The drop-out rate was similar between groups (16.7% SBRT group vs. 20.2% TACE group and 16.8% RFA group, p=0.7); 30 patients were transplanted in the SBRT group, 79 in the TACE group and 203 in the RFA group. Postoperative complications were similar between groups. Patients in the RFA group had more tumor necrosis in the explant. The 1-, 3- and 5-year actuarial patient survival from the time of listing was 83%, 61% and 61% in the SBRT group vs. 86%, 61% and 56% in the TACE group, and 86%, 72% and 61% in the RFA group, p=0.4. The 1-, 3- and 5-year survival from the time of transplant was 83%, 75% and 75% in the SBRT group vs. 96%, 75% and 69% in the TACE group, and 95%, 81% and 73% in the RFA group, p=0.7.

Conclusions: In conclusion, SBRT can be safely utilized as a bridge to LT in patients with HCC, as an alternative to conventional bridging therapies.

Lay summary: Patients with liver cancer included in the waiting list for liver transplantation are at risk of tumor progression and death. Stereotactic body radiotherapy may be a good alternative to conventional therapies to reduce this risk.

Keywords: Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver transplantation; Stereotactic body radiotherapy; Transarterial chemoembolization.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Catheter Ablation*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention to Treat Analysis*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiosurgery*