Radiofrequency Ablation, Surgery Equal in Small HCC

Survival rate comparable, but incidence of tumor recurrence increased with RFA

MONDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Overall survival is comparable for patients with small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated with surgical resection (SR) or radiofrequency ablation (RFA), according to a study published in the January issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Hung-Hsu Hung, M.D., from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan, and colleagues examined data from 419 patients with HCCs of 5 cm or smaller. A treatment group of 190 patients received RFA and 229 were treated with SR. Overall five-year survival and recurrence were compared for the treatment groups.

The researchers found that the five-year overall survival rate was 79.3 percent in the SR group, compared with 67.4 percent in the RFA group. After matching to compensate for the selection bias, the RFA group was comparable to SR in terms of overall survival (P = .519), but had an increased incidence of recurrence (P < .001). For patients who had Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage 0, HCC RFA was as effective as SR for both overall survival and clinical recurrence.

"Although the recurrence rate remained higher in the RFA group, RFA was comparable to SR in overall survival for treatment of small HCCs. Because a majority of the patients with recurrence after RFA were detected by close surveillance, the sizes of recurrent tumors were small, which can be treated completely by another session of local ablation therapy. Accordingly, long-term outcomes remain relatively good," the authors write.

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