Background/aim: Adequate assessment of transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE)-refractory status has become more important for switching treatment in intermediate-stage (BCLC-B) hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients treated with TACE. The usefulness of a previously proposed tumor marker score for predicting prognosis of BCLC-B HCC patients treated with TACE was investigated.
Methods: Using a nationwide database, we examined the records of 1,306 naïve BCLC-B HCC with Child-Pugh A who were treated from 2001 to 2007, after excluding those with missing data (hepatic function or tumor markers) or cases with a single large tumor. Alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) ≥100 ng/mL, fucosylated AFP (AFP-L3) ≥10%, and des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin ≥100 mAU/mL were markers used to define positive cases. The number of positive tumor markers was used as a prognostic score, and its predictive value was evaluated in a retrospective manner.
Results: Median survival time became shorter along with increased score (0, 1, ≥2 = 4.8, 3.8, 3.2 years, respectively; p < 0.01). Tumor marker score (≥2; hazard ratio [HR] 1.675, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.372-2.044, p < 0.001), serum levels of albumin (≥3.5 g/dL; HR 0.726, 95% CI 0.528-0.997, p = 0.048), and up-to-7 criteria (HR 1.673, 95% CI 1.400-2.000, p < 0.001) were significant prognostic factors for death in the Cox hazard multivariate analysis.
Conclusion: Tumor marker score had a useful predictive prognostic value in BCLC-B HCC treated with TACE. Especially in patients with a tumor marker score of 2 or greater, a poor therapeutic response should be expected, and appropriate judgement of TACE-refractory status is necessary.
Keywords: Alpha-fetoprotein; BCLC-B; Des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin; Fucosylated alpha-fetoprotein; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Prognosis; TACE-refractory status.
Copyright © 2019 by S. Karger AG, Basel.
Conflict of interest statement
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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