Objectives: Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) improves the survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC); however, TACE treatment outcomes of patients with treatment-naïve HCC (TN-HCC) and those with recurrent HCC after curative resection (R-HCC) have not yet been compared. Methods: We recruited 448 patients with TN-HCC, and 275 patients with R-HCC treated with TACE as first-line anti-cancer treatment. Results: At first TACE, patients with TN-HCC showed a significantly lower proportion of male gender (74.9% vs. 84.3%), higher proportion of liver cirrhosis (61.9% vs. 49.3%), higher aspartate aminotransferase (median 48 vs. 31 IU/L), alanine aminotransferase (median 38 vs. 26 IU/L), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) (median 96.6 vs. 7.7 ng/mL), and total bilirubin (mean 1.0 vs. 0.8 mg/dL) levels, longer prothrombin time (median 1.05 vs. 1.01 international normalized ratio), higher tumor number (mean 2.1 vs. 1.7), larger tumor size (median 3.1 vs. 1.6 cm), and lower proportion of Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage 0-A (55.6% vs. 71.9%) than patients with R-HCC (all P < 0.05). Multivariate analysis showed that TACE for TN-HCC (vs. R-HCC) was an independent predictor of mortality (hazard ratio, 1.328; P = 0.024) with AFP level and tumor number (all P < 0.05). However, treatment outcomes between TN-HCC and R-HCC became statistically similar after propensity score-matched (PSM) analysis using liver cirrhosis, tumor size, and multiple tumors (P < 0.05). Conclusions: Based on the similar TACE treatment outcomes observed with the PSM analysis, the current TACE treatment guideline for patients with TN-HCC might similarly be applied for patients with R-HCC.
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