Published online Nov 14, 2015. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i42.12197
Peer-review started: April 29, 2015
First decision: June 2, 2015
Revised: July 3, 2015
Accepted: September 15, 2015
Article in press: September 15, 2015
Published online: November 14, 2015
AIM: To conduct a meta-analysis to investigate the clinical outcomes of surgical resection and locoregional treatments for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in elderly patients defined as aged 70 years or more.
METHODS: Literature documenting a comparison of clinical outcomes for elderly and non elderly patients with hepatocellular carcinoma was identified by searching PubMed, Ovid, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science databases, for those from inception to March 2015 with no limits. Dichotomous outcomes and standard meta-analysis techniques were used. Heterogeneity was tested by the Cochrane Q statistic. Pooled estimates were measured using the fixed or random effect model.
RESULTS: Twenty three studies were included with a total of 12482 patients. Of these patients, 6341 were treated with surgical resection, 3138 were treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA), and 3003 were treated with transarterial chemoembolization (TACE). Of the patients who underwent surgical resection, the elderly had significantly more respiratory co-morbidities than the younger group, with both groups having a similar proportion of cardiovascular co-morbidities and diabetes. After 1 year, the elderly group had significantly increased survival rates after surgical resection compared to the younger group (OR = 0.762, 95%CI: 0.583-0.994, P = 0.045). However, the 3-year and 5-year survival outcomes with surgical resection between the two groups were similar (OR = 0.947, 95%CI: 0.777-1.154, P = 0.67 for the third year; and OR = 1.131, 95%CI: 0.895-1.430, P = 0.304 for the fifth year). Postoperative treatment complications were similar between the elderly and younger group. The elderly group and younger group had similar survival outcomes for the first and third year after RFA (OR = 1.5, 95%CI: 0.788-2.885, P = 0.217 and OR = 1.352, 95%CI: 0.940-1.944, P = 0.104). For the fifth year, the elderly group had significantly worse survival rates compared to the younger group after RFA (OR = 1.379, 95%CI: 1.079-1.763, P = 0.01). For patients who underwent TACE, the elderly group had significantly increased survival compared to the younger group for the first and third year (OR = 0.664, 95%CI: 0.548-0.805, P = 0.00 and OR = 0.795, 95%CI: 0.663-0.953, P = 0.013). At the fifth year, there were no significant differences in overall survival between the elderly group and younger group (OR = 1.256, 95%CI: 0.806-1.957, P = 0.313).
CONCLUSION: The optimal management strategy for elderly patients with HCC is dependent on patient and tumor characteristics. Compared to patients less than 70, elderly patients have similar three year survival after resection and ablation and an improved three year survival after TACE. At five years, elderly patients had a lower survival after ablation but similar survival with resection and TACE as compared to younger patients. Heterogeneity of patient populations and selection bias can explain some of these findings. Overall, elderly patients have similar success, if not better, with these treatments and should be considered for all treatments after assessment of their clinical status and cancer burden.
Core tip: The optimal management strategy for elderly patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is dependent on patient and tumor characteristics. This meta-analysis suggests that surgical resection, transarterial chemoembolization, and radiofrequency ablation are safe and effective treatment options for elderly patients with HCC. Overall, elderly patients have similar success with these treatments compared to younger patients and should be considered for all treatments pending their clinical status and cancer burden.