Assessment of Response to Transcatheter Arterial Chemoembolization with Doxorubicin-eluting Microspheres: Tumor Biology and Hepatocellular Carcinoma Recurrence in a 5-year Transplant Cohort

Radiology. 2018 Mar;286(3):1072-1083. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2017170731. Epub 2017 Dec 4.


Purpose To assess response to transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) based on immune markers and tumor biology in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who were bridged to liver transplantation, and to produce an optimized pretransplantation model for posttransplantation recurrence risk. Materials and Methods In this institutional review board-approved HIPAA-compliant retrospective analysis, 93 consecutive patients (73 male, 20 female; mean age, 59.6 years; age range, 23-72 years) underwent TACE with doxorubicin-eluting microspheres (DEB) (hereafter, DEB-TACE) and subsequently underwent transplantation over a 5-year period from July 7, 2011, to May 16, 2016. DEB-TACE response was based on modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors. Imaging responses and posttransplantation recurrence were compared with demographics, liver function, basic immune markers, treatment dose, and tumor morphology. Treatment response and recurrence were analyzed with uni- and multivariate statistics, as well as internal validation and propensity score matching of factors known to affect recurrence to assess independent effects of DEB-TACE response on recurrence. Results Low-grade tumors (grade 0, 1, or 2) demonstrated a favorable long-term treatment response in 87% of patients (complete response, 49%; partial response, 38%; stable disease [SD] or local disease progression [DP], 13%) versus 33% of high-grade tumors (grade 3 or 4) (complete response, 0%; partial response, 33%; SD or DP, 67%) (P < .001). Of the 93 patients who underwent treatment, 82 were followed-up after transplantation (mean duration, 757 days). Recurrence occurred in seven (9%) patients (mean time after transplantation, 635 days). Poor response to DEB-TACE (SD or DP) was present in 86% of cases and accounted for 35% of all patients with SD or DP (P < .001). By using only variables routinely available prior to liver transplantation, a validated model of posttransplantation recurrence risk was produced with a concordance statistic of 0.83. The validated model shows sensitivity of 83.6%, specificity of 82.6%, and negative predictive value of 98.4%, which are pessimistic estimates. Conclusion Response to DEB-TACE is correlated with tumor biology and patients at risk for posttransplantation recurrence, and it may be associated with HCC recurrence after liver transplantation. © RSNA, 2017 Online supplemental material is available for this article.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / therapy
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic* / methods
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Liver Transplantation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Microspheres
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Doxorubicin