Traditional herbal medicine prevents postoperative recurrence of small hepatocellular carcinoma: A randomized controlled study

Cancer. 2018 May 15;124(10):2161-2168. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30915. Epub 2018 Mar 2.


Background: To explore the clinical efficacy of traditional herbal medicine (THM) in the prevention of disease recurrence of small hepatocellular carcinoma after surgery, a prospective randomized controlled study was conducted between October 2006 and May 2010. The results indicated that THM prevented the recurrence of SHCC with an efficacy that was superior to that of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) during a median follow-up of 26.61 months.

Methods: The patients were followed up every 6 months, and the clinical data before October 20, 2015 were analyzed. The primary outcome measure was recurrence-free survival (RFS), and the secondary outcome measure was overall survival (OS).

Results: The 364 patients included 180 in the THM group and 184 in the TACE group. At the time of the data cutoff of October 20, 2015, a total of 205 patients demonstrated disease recurrence, including 85 patients in the THM group and 120 patients in the TACE group. The median RFS of the THM and TACE groups demonstrated a statistically significant difference (P<.001). Until October 20, 2105, there were 91 deaths, including 34 in the THM group and 57 in the TACE group. The median OS demonstrated a significant difference between the 2 groups (P = .008). Multivariate analysis indicated that THM was an independent factor influencing RFS and OS.

Conclusions: The efficacy of THM was found to be superior to that of TACE in preventing disease recurrence in patients with small hepatocellular carcinoma and prolonging OS. Cancer 2018;124:2161-8. © 2018 American Cancer Society.

Keywords: long-term survival; small hepatocellular carcinoma; traditional herbal medicine; transcatheter hepatic arterial chemoembolization.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / methods
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control*
  • Postoperative Period


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal