Laser ablation is superior to TACE in large-sized hepatocellular carcinoma: a pilot case-control study

Oncotarget. 2018 Apr 3;9(25):17483-17490. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.24756.


Background: Limited therapies are available for large (≥40 mm) unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Currently, the standard treatment with transarterial chemoembolisation (TACE) is unsatisfactory with high recurrence rate and limited effect on survival. Laser Ablation (LA) has emerged as a relatively new technique characterized by high efficacy and good safety. This study is aimed to evaluate the efficacy of LA in comparison to TACE in patients with large HCC.

Methods: Eighty-two patients with a single HCC nodule ≥40 mm (BCLC stage A or B) were enrolled in this case-control study. Forty-one patients were treated with LA and 41 patients were treated with TACE. Response to therapy was evaluated according to the mRECIST criteria. Survival was calculated with Kaplan-Meier from the time of cancer diagnosis to death with values censored at the date of the last follow-up.

Results: Twenty-six (63.4%) and 8 (19.5%) patients had a complete response after LA and TACE, respectively (p < 0.001). Subsequently we stratified the HCCs in 3 categories according to the nodule size: 40-50 mm, 51-60 mm, and >60 mm. LA resulted superior to TACE especially in nodules ranging between 51 and 60 mm in diameter, with a complete response rate post-LA and post-TACE of 75% and 14.3%, respectively (p = 0.0133). The 36 months cumulative survival rate in patients treated with LA and TACE was 55.4% and 48.8%, respectively. The disease recurrence rates after LA and TACE were 19.5% and 75.0%, respectively.

Conclusions: LA is a more effective therapeutic option than TACE in patients with solitary large HCC.

Keywords: TACE; large HCC; laser ablation.