Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is the standard of care for the treatment of patients with an intermediate (Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer [BCLC] B) hepatocellular carcinoma and to bridge patients with an early cancer to liver transplantation (LT). We explored the efficacy of TACE with drug-eluting beads (DEB) in BCLC A patients. Included are all BCLC A patients unsuitable for resection or locoregional ablation who underwent a DEB TACE between 2006 and 2012. Treatment was carried out "a la demande" until complete tumor devascularization or progression beyond Milan criteria. In patients with a complete response (CR), a contrast computed tomography (CT) scan was repeated at 3-month intervals during the first 2 years and then every 6 months alternating with abdominal ultrasound in the subsequent 3 years. Fifty-five patients had 79 tumor nodules ranging 7 to 50 mm; 32 (58%) achieved a CR that was maintained up to 4 and 7 months in 21 (38%) and 17 (31%) patients, respectively. The 24- and 36-month tumor-free survivals were 21% and 9%, respectively. The overall cumulative progression beyond Milan criteria at 3, 6, 12, and 24 months was 2%, 5%, 30%, and 54%. LT eligibility was maintained for a median of 19 months (range, 2-63 months). CR to first TACE was the strongest independent predictor of Milan-in maintenance. In conclusion, DEB TACE may effectively bridge patients with an early cancer to LT, and a CR to the first procedure may guide patient prioritization during the waiting list. Liver Transpl 21:1259-1269, 2015.
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