Conventional versus drug-eluting beads chemoembolization for hepatocellular carcinoma: Emphasis on the impact of tumor size

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Background and Aim:

This study aims to evaluate clinical outcomes of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who underwent transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) using drug-eluting beads (DEB).

Patients and Methods:

This study retrospectively compared the clinical outcomes of 250 consecutive patients who underwent DEB-TACE (n = 106) or conventional TACE (cTACE) (n = 144) in a tertiary center between January 2010 and April 2014. The median age of the patients was 62 years and 81.6% were men. The primary endpoint was overall survival (OS). The time to progression (TTP), radiological response rate using modified response evaluation criteria in solid tumors criteria at 1 month after treatment, and complication rates within 1 month were also compared.


The most common etiology was hepatitis B virus infection. The median index tumor size was 2.8 cm, and 150 (60.0%) patients had Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage B. Median TTP in the cTACE group was longer than in the DEB-TACE group (13.3 vs10.8 months; P = 0.023). However, DEB-TACE and cTACE groups showed no significant differences for mean OS (46.6 vs 44.9 months; P = 0.660) and disease control rate at 1 month (78.3% vs 86.8%; P = 0.076). The OS, TTP, and disease control rate were also not different between two groups, even when subgrouped by index tumor size. The complication rates within 1 month were higher in the cTACE group (6.6% vs 14.6%; P = 0.048).


Drug-eluting beads TACE appears to be a safe intra-arterial therapy. However, it is not superior to cTACE in terms of efficacy. Tumor size might not be a criterion to select treatment modality between cTACE and DEB-TACE in terms of efficacy.

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