Background : Advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with portal vein thrombosis has a poor prognosis and has little hope for meaningful therapy. Transarterial chemoembolization has been performed as a treatment for advanced HCC, but some patients die from progressive liver failure after therapy. This study was undertaken to evaluate the therapeutic effects of intra-arterial infusion chemotherapy in advanced HCC with portal vein thrombosis, and to compare with those of systemic chemotherapy, and to identify prognostic factors that could affect survival.
Methods : Between January 1995 and January 2001, a total of 102 patients with advanced HCC having portal vein thrombosis (TNM stage IVa) were enrolled and divided into 3 groups; Group 1 (n=24) was managed with only conservative treatment, group 2 (n=25) received systemic combination chemotherapy consisting of 5-fluorouracil (FU) + Adriamycin + Mitomycin C, or 5-FU + Etoposide Cisplatin, and group 3 (n=52) received intra-arterial infusion chemotherapy with 5-FU (250 mg for 5 days) + cisplatin (10 mg for 5 days) via implanted chemoport.
Results : One-year survival rates were 0%, 4%, 21%, and median survivals were 2-, 4-, 6 months in group 1, group 2, group 3, respectively (p=0.003). When we divide group 3 patients into long term survivors (more than 8 months) or short term survivors (less than 8 months), former had significantly lower level of serum AST (p=0.032) and alkaline phosphatase (p=0.033). Especially, all female patients (n=9) survived more than 8 months, and had a longer survival than male patients (p=0.000). Other favorable prognostic factors for survival were cirrhosis of Child-Pugh class A (p=0.003), only one major branch involvement of the portal vein by tumor (p=0.005), presence of enhancement of tumor portion in arterial phase of CT scan (p=0.044), presence of enhancement of non-tumor portion in portal phase of CT scan (p=0.029).
Conclusion : Intra-arterial infusion chemotherapy achieved favorable results in advanced HCC with portal vein thrombosis and showed better survival in selected patients. This therapy can be tried as a treatment option for the management of advanced HCC.
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