Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) incidence is rising worldwide, especially due to increased detection of early-stage or small-sized tumors. Nevertheless, most of the patients are still not qualified for surgical resection at diagnosis due to the localization of the tumor, underlying liver disease or comorbidities. Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is a radiotherapy modality which can deliver a high dose of radiation to the target tissue with a high degree of precision. It shows promise in terms of efficacy and morbidity. Material and methods: The aim of this systematic review is to summarize current knowledge on patient-specific outcomes of SBRT for small HCC including overall survival, local control, the effect of dose escalation and the toxicity of the treatment. The systematic review was performed according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). After a comprehensive database search, 16 studies (973 patients with 1034 lesions) were included in qualitative and quantitative analyses; 14 of them were retrospective. Results: Average tumor diameter was 23 mm and 95% of patients were in good general condition. Median BED10 (biologically equivalent dose calculated for α/β ratio of 10 Gy) was 100 Gy (range 59.5–180 Gy). Mean weighted local control across studies was 94%, 92% and 93% at 1, 2, and 3 years, respectively. Mean weighted overall survival across studies was 90.9%, 67.5% and 73.4% at 1, 2, and 3 years, respectively. There were 171 grade 1–2 toxicities (17.5%) and 53 ≥ grade 3 toxicities (5.3%). There was no treatment-associated mortality. Conclusion: SBRT offers high local control with overall survival that is comparable with radiofrequency ablation and surgery. Quality of findings, especially on toxicities, is decreased by incomplete reporting and retrospective designs of published studies. Therefore, there is a need for better reporting and prospective studies to univocally recommend SBRT as a definitive treatment option in the guidelines for small HCCs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging