June 1997

Is Cryosurgical Ablation Appropriate for Treating Hepatocellular Cancer?

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Surgery (Drs Wren and Stain and Ms Coburn), Radiology (Drs Tan and Yassa), Medicine (Dr Daniels), and Preventive Medicine (Dr Carpenter), University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.

Arch Surg. 1997;132(6):599-604. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1997.01430300041008

Objective:  To examine the feasibility and efficacy of cryosurgical ablation as treatment for patients with cirrhosis with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma.

Design:  Retrospective case series.

Setting:  A tertiary public hospital and a cancer center.

Patients:  Twelve patients with cirrhosis with hepatocellular carcinoma (stage II, 2; stage III, 1; stage IVA, 7; stage IVB, 2).

Interventions:  Cryosurgical ablation of all identifiable tumors. Nine patients treated with curative intent were included in the survival analysis, and 3 were treated for palliation. Five patients were treated with preoperative intra-arterial chemoembolization.

Main Outcome Measures:  Perioperative complications and the effects of tumor stage and chemoembolization were examined. Patient survival and disease-free interval were calculated by life-table analysis.

Results:  No perioperative deaths occurred and 1 patient had 2 postoperative complications: pneumonia and biloma. The mean survival has been 19 months after cryosurgical ablation and 29 months after diagnosis. Three of the 9 patients treated with curative intent died with recurrence at a mean of 17 months after cryosurgical ablation. Four patients are alive with recurrence at a mean of 19 months after cryosurgical ablation and 38 months after diagnosis. Two patients with stage II disease have no evidence of recurrence 10 and 32 months after cryosurgical ablation.

Conclusions:  Cryosurgical ablation is feasible and safe for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with cirrhosis. The technique is primarily palliative but may provide a possibility of cure in patients with lower-stage disease.Arch Surg. 1997;132:599-604