Hyperthermia ablation combined with transarterial chemoembolization versus monotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Cancer Med. 2021 Dec;10(23):8432-8450. doi: 10.1002/cam4.4350. Epub 2021 Oct 16.


Background and aims: The existing evidence has indicated that hyperthermia ablation (HA) and HA combined with transarterial chemoembolization (HATACE) are the optimal alternative to surgical resection for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the COVID-19 crisis. However, the evidence for decision-making is lacking in terms of comparison between HA and HATACE. Herein, a comprehensive evaluation was performed to compare the efficacy and safety of HATACE with monotherapy.

Materials and methods: Worldwide studies were collected to evaluate the HATACE regimen for HCC due to the practical need for global extrapolation of applicative population. Meta-analyses were performed using the RevMan 5.3 software (The Nordic Cochrane Centre, The Cochrane Collaboration, Copenhagen, Denmark).

Results: Thirty-six studies involving a large sample of 5036 patients were included finally. Compared with HA alone, HATACE produced the advantage of 5-year overall survival (OS) rate (OR:1.90; 95%CI:1.46,2.46; p < 0.05) without increasing toxicity (p ≥ 0.05). Compared with TACE alone, HATACE was associated with superior 5-year OS rate (OR:3.54; 95%CI:1.96,6.37; p < 0.05) and significantly reduced the incidences of severe liver damage (OR:0.32; 95%CI:0.11,0.96; p < 0.05) and ascites (OR:0.42; 95%CI:0.20,0.88; p < 0.05). Subgroup analysis results of small (≤3 cm) HCC revealed that there were no significant differences between the HATACE group and HA monotherapy group in regard to the OS rates (p ≥ 0.05).

Conclusions: Compared with TACE alone, HATACE was more effective and safe for HCC. Compared with HA alone, HATACE was more effective for non-small-sized (>3 cm) HCC with comparable safety. However, the survival benefit of adjuvant TACE in HATACE regimen was not found for the patients with small (≤3 cm) HCC.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; hepatocellular carcinoma; hyperthermia ablation; meta-analysis; transarterial chemoembolization.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic / methods*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / methods*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome