Date: 16 May 2012

Hepatic artery injection of 131I-labelled metuximab combined with chemoembolization for intermediate hepatocellular carcinoma: a prospective nonrandomized study

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth and seventh most common cause of cancer in men and women, respectively. Transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) is the standardized therapy for the intermediate stage of HCC. However, the 3-year overall survival remains low (<30 %) in these patients. Thus, there is a critical need for the development of treatment modalities to improve the survival rate. This study aimed to evaluate whether the combination of 131I-metuximab with chemoembolization could improve treatment efficiency.


Between January 2009 and January 2010, a prospective two-arm nonrandomized study was performed in patients with intermediate HCC. Of 138 patients, 68 (combination therapy group) received 132 courses of intraarterial 131I-metuximab injections combined with chemoembolization (mean 1.94 per patient, median 2, range 1–2), followed by 152 sessions of TACE (mean 2.24 per patient, median 2, range 0–4). The remaining 70 patients (monotherapy group) received 296 sessions of TACE (mean 4.23 per patient, median 4, range 1–7).


The overall median survival times for the combination therapy group and the group treated only with TACE were 26.7 months (95 % CI 20.7–31.3 months) and 20.6 months (95 % CI 15.3–24.7 months), respectively. The combination therapy group had a significantly higher survival rate than the TACE-only group (P = 0.038). Age ≥65 years, serum albumin ≤35 g/l, and treatment category (combination therapy or TACE only) were independent prognostic factors for survival according to multivariate analysis.


The combination of 131I-metuximab and chemoembolization extended survival in patients with intermediate HCC compared with TACE only, and was well tolerated by patients with Child-Pugh class A or B disease. This combination seems to be a promising treatment modality for patients with intermediate HCC.