Background & aims: Surgical resection is not always feasible in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Microwave coagulation therapy has been used as an alternative to resection, and its efficacy has been evaluated.
Methods: Nineteen patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma underwent microwave coagulation therapy through laparotomy (n = 12), laparoscopy (n = 5), or thoracotomy (n = 2) because of advanced liver cirrhosis and/or intrahepatic metastases. One nodule was treated in 13 patients, tumor size ranged from 5 to 90 mm. Patient outcomes were studied.
Results: Microwave coagulation therapy created a reproducible regional necrosis. Fourteen patients underwent potentially curative treatment; the remaining 5 patients underwent palliative treatment (n = 4) or incomplete tumor coagulation (n = 1). Of the 31 nodules treated, 28 underwent complete tumor ablation. Only 2 patients undergoing laparoscopic microwave coagulation therapy developed local recurrence. The coagulated area subsequently shrank. Patients showed rapid recovery without hepatic dysfunction. Thirteen patients, including 2 long-term survivors, are alive either without tumor (n = 10; 14-64 months) or with tumor (n = 3; 17-22 months). Six patients died of hepatocellular carcinoma (n = 4) or liver insufficiency (n = 2).
Conclusions: This preliminary study suggests the efficacy of microwave coagulation therapy, including safety and potential curability, in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma with advanced liver cirrhosis and multifocal or central tumors.