Radiofrequency ablation for recurrent versus first-occurrence hepatocellular carcinoma

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Studies comparing the efficacy of radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in terms of overall survival, disease-free survival and local recurrence in recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are limited. We carried out the present study to compare the survival of recurrent HCC after RFA with that of first-occurrence HCC.

Patients and Methods:

A total of 170 patients with HCC smaller than 5 cm who received RFA in a tertiary academic hospital were recruited. Clinical data were prospectively collected, reviewed and compared between recurrent and first-occurrence HCC groups. Patients who received RFA for post-ablation recurrent HCC were excluded.


There was no significant difference in the complication, incomplete ablation, recurrence and survival rates between the recurrent HCC and the first-occurrence HCC groups. The tumour size in the recurrent HCC group was significantly smaller than that in the first-occurrence group (1.8 vs 2.5 cm), and the recurrent HCC group had a significantly higher proportion of Child's A cirrhosis.


When detected and treated early, the overall survival of recurrent HCC treated RFA was comparable to that of first-occurrence HCC. The advantages of RFA, especially when percutaneous route is feasible, over hepatectomy should be extended to recurrent HCC in suitable cases.

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