Background and aims: So far, no randomized trial or meta-analysis has been conducted on overall survival (OS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS) factors in patients treated with radiofrequency ablation (RFA) alone. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to evaluate prognostic factors of OS and RFS in patients treated with RFA.
Methods: A primary analysis was planned to evaluate the clinical prognostic factor of OS. RFS was the secondary aim. Thirty-four studies published from 2003 to 2017 were analyzed. They included 11,216 hepatocellular carcinoma patients.
Results: The results showed that Child-Pugh B vs Child-Pugh A (HR =2.32; 95% CI: 2.201-2.69; P<0.0001) and albumin-bilirubin score 1 vs 0 (HR =2.69; 95% CI: 2.10-3.44; P<0.0001) were predictive of poor OS. Tumor size as a continuous variable was not predictive of OS, although it was predictive of OS when we considered the size as a cutoff value (.2 cm vs <2 cm: HR =1.41; 95% CI: 1.23-1.61; P<0.0001; >3 cm vs <3 cm: HR =1.43; 95% CI: 1.17-1.74; P<0.0001) and in presence of >1 nodule (HR =1.59; 95% CI: 1.46-1.74; P<0.0001). Alpha-fetoprotein >20 ng/mL (HR =1.46; 95% CI: 1.25-1.70; P<0.0001) was the only predictive factor of poor prognosis.
Conclusion: Our meta-analysis highlighted that the maximum benefit of RFA in terms of OS and RFS is reached in the presence of Child-Pugh A, albumin-bilirubin score 1, single-nodule tumor sized <2 cm, and alpha-fetoprotein <20 ng/mL.