Analysis of survival predictors in a prospective cohort of patients undergoing transarterial chemoembolization for hepatocellular carcinoma in a single Canadian centre

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Despite advances in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a great proportion of patients are eligible only for palliative therapy for reasons of advanced-stage disease or poor hepatic reserve. The use of transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) in the palliation of non-resectable HCC has shown a survival benefit in European and Asian populations. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of TACE by analysing overall 5-year survival, interval changes of tumour size and serum alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels in a prospective North American cohort.


From September 2005 to December 2010, 46 candidates for TACE were enrolled in the study. Collectively, they underwent 102 TACE treatments. Data on tumour response, serum AFP and survival were prospectively collected.


In compensated cirrhotic patients, serial treatment with TACE had a stabilizing effect on tumour size and reduced serum AFP levels during the first 12 months. Overall survival rates at 1, 2 and 3 years were 69%, 58% and 20%, respectively. Younger individuals and patients with a lower body mass index, affected by early-stage HCC with involvement of a single lobe, had better survival in univariate analysis. After adjustment for risk factors, early tumour stage (T1 and T2 vs. T3 and T4) at diagnosis was the only statistically significant predictor for survival.


In compensated cirrhotic patients, TACE is an effective palliative intervention and HCC stage at diagnosis seems to be the most important predictor of longterm outcomes.

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