Published online Jan 28, 2006. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v12.i4.546
Revised: August 8, 2005
Accepted: August 26, 2005
Published online: January 28, 2006
AIM: To determine which treatment modality - hepatectomy or percutaneous ablation - is more beneficial for patients with small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (≤ 4 cm) in terms of long-term outcomes.
METHODS: A retrospective analysis of 149 patients with HCC ≤ 4 cm was conducted. Eighty-five patients underwent partial hepatectomy (anatomic in 47 and non-anatomic in 38) and 64 underwent percutaneous ablation (percutaneous ethanol injection in 37, radiofrequency ablation in 21, and microwave coagulation in 6). The median follow-up period was 69 mo.
RESULTS: Hepatectomy was associated with larger tumor size (P < 0.001), whereas percutaneous ablation was significantly associated with impaired hepatic functional reserve. Local recurrence was less frequent following hepatectomy (P < 0.0001). Survival was better following hepatectomy (median survival time: 122 mo) than following percutaneous ablation (median survival time: 66 mo; P = 0.0123). When tumor size was divided into ≤ 2 cm vs > 2 cm, the favorable effects of hepatectomy on long-term survival was seen only in patients with tumors >2 cm (P = 0.0001). The Cox proportional hazards regression model revealed that hepatectomy (P = 0.006) and tumors ≤ 2 cm (P = 0.017) were independently associated with better survival.
CONCLUSION: Hepatectomy provides both better local control and better long-term survival for patients with HCC ≤ 4 cm compared with percutaneous ablation. Of the patients with HCC ≤ 4 cm, those with tumors > 2 cm are good candidates for hepatectomy, provided that the hepatic functional reserve of the patient permits resection.