What are the long-term survival outcomes after repeat hepatectomy vs percutaneous radiofrequency ablation among patients with recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma?
In this randomized clinical trial that included 240 patients with early-stage recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma, the 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year overall survival rates after repeat hepatectomy (92.5%, 65.8%, and 43.6%, respectively) vs percutaneous radiofrequency ablation (87.5%, 52.5%, and 38.5%, respectively) were not significantly different in the intention-to-treat population.
There did not appear to be a statistically significant difference in survival outcomes after repeat hepatectomy compared with percutaneous radiofrequency ablation in patients with early-stage recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma.
Repeat hepatectomy and percutaneous radiofrequency ablation (PRFA) are most commonly used to treat early-stage recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma (RHCC) after initial resection, but previous studies comparing the effectiveness of the 2 treatments have reported conflicting results.
To compare the long-term survival outcomes after repeat hepatectomy with those after PRFA among patients with early-stage RHCC.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This open-label randomized clinical trial was conducted at the Eastern Hepatobiliary Surgery Hospital and the National Center for Liver Cancer of China. A total of 240 patients with RHCC (with a solitary nodule diameter of ≤5 cm; 3 or fewer nodules, each ≤3 cm in diameter; and no macroscopic vascular invasion or distant metastasis) were randomized 1:1 to receive repeat hepatectomy or PRFA between June 3, 2010, and January 15, 2013. The median (range) follow-up time was 44.3 (4.3-90.6) months (last follow-up, January 15, 2018). Data analysis was conducted from June 15, 2018, to September 28, 2018.
Repeat hepatectomy (n = 120) or PRFA (n = 120).
Main Outcomes and Measures
The primary outcome was overall survival (OS). Secondary outcomes included repeat recurrence–free survival (rRFS), patterns of repeat recurrence, and therapeutic safety.
Among the 240 randomized patients (216 men [90.0%]; median [range] age, 53.0 [24.0-59.0] years), 217 completed the trial. In the intention-to-treat (ITT) population, the 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year OS rates were 92.5% (95% CI, 87.9%-97.3%), 65.8% (95% CI, 57.8%-74.8%), and 43.6% (95% CI, 35.5%-53.5%), respectively, for the repeat hepatectomy group and 87.5% (95% CI, 81.8%-93.6%), 52.5% (95% CI, 44.2%-62.2%), and 38.5% (95% CI, 30.6%-48.4%), respectively, for the PRFA group (P = .17). The corresponding 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year rRFS rates were 85.0% (95% CI, 78.8%-91.6%), 52.4% (95% CI, 44.2%-62.2%), and 36.2% (95% CI, 28.5%-46.0%), respectively, for the repeat hepatectomy group and 74.2% (95% CI, 66.7%-82.4%), 41.7% (95% CI, 33.7%-51.5%), and 30.2% (95% CI, 22.9%-39.8%), respectively, for the PRFA group (P = .09). Percutaneous radiofrequency ablation was associated with a higher incidence of local repeat recurrence (37.8% vs 21.7%, P = .04) and early repeat recurrence than repeat hepatectomy (40.3% vs 23.3%, P = .04). In subgroup analyses, PRFA was associated with worse OS vs repeat hepatectomy among patients with an RHCC nodule diameter greater than 3 cm (hazard ratio, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.05-2.84) or an α fetoprotein level greater than 200 ng/mL (hazard ratio, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.15-2.96). Surgery had a higher complication rate than did ablation (22.4% vs 7.3%, P = .001).
Conclusions and Relevance
No statistically significant difference was observed in survival outcomes after repeat hepatectomy vs PRFA for patients with early-stage RHCC. Repeat hepatectomy may be associated with better local disease control and long-term survival in patients with an RHCC diameter greater than 3 cm or an AFP level greater than 200 ng/mL.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00822562
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Xia Y, Li J, Liu G, et al. Long-term Effects of Repeat Hepatectomy vs Percutaneous Radiofrequency Ablation Among Patients With Recurrent Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Oncol. Published online November 27, 2019. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.4477
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