Could radiofrequency ablation replace liver resection for small hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with compensated cirrhosis? A 5-year follow-up
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Treating hepatocellular carcinoma involves many different specialists and requires multidisciplinary management. In light of the current discussion on the role of ablative therapy, the aim of this study is to compare patients who undergo hepatic resection to those treated with radiofrequency ablation.
The procedures have been conducted in two institutes following the same methodologies. Ninety-six patients with Child–Pugh class A cirrhosis, single or multinodular hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and a diameter less than or equal to 3 cm, have been included in this retrospective study: 52 patients have been treated by surgical resection and 44 by radiofrequency ablation. Patient characteristics, survival and disease-free survival have all been analysed.
Disease-free survival was longer in the resection group in comparison to the radiofrequency group with a median disease-free time of 48 versus 34 months, respectively (P = 0.04, hazard ratio = 1.5, 95 % confidence interval = 0.9–2.5). In the resection group, median survival was 54 months with a survival rate at 1, 3 and 5 years of 100, 98 and 46.2 %. In the radiofrequency group, median survival was 40 months with 1-, 3- and 5-year survival rate of 95.5, 68.2 and 36.4 %.
The current study shows that for small HCC in the presence of compensated cirrhosis, surgical resection gives better results than radiofrequency, both in terms of overall survival, as well as disease-free survival. Further evidence is required to clarify the role of ablative therapy as a curative treatment and whether it can replace surgery.