Background: Transarterial embolization using one permanent embolic agent alone enhances tumour ischaemia and spares patients with hepatocellular carcinoma form toxic chemotherapeutic drugs. Purpose: We assessed feasibility, tolerability and efficacy of transarterial embolization with microspheres in patients with a single node hepatocellular carcinoma. Materials and methods: Eighteen consecutive patients with compensated cirrhosis, hypervascularized single hepatocellular carcinoma, in whom liver transplantation was indicated (no. = 3), or excluded from radical therapies (no. = 15), received selective transarterial embolization with microspheres. Treatment was repeated every other month until complete devascularitazion was demonstrated by computed tomography, for a maximum of 3 cycles. Results: Fifty transarterial embolization courses (mean: 2.8 courses, range 1-6) were administered, corresponding to a 100% applicability rates. Initial complete response was achieved in 16 (89%) patients and confirmed by histology in 2 transplanted patients. During 21-month follow-up (range 8-36), hepatocellular carcinoma recurred in 10 (62%) patients who achieved initial complete response, and de novo tumour nodes developed in 10 (56%). No patient required analgesics and none had liver function deteriorated following transarterial embolization. Conclusions: Transarterial embolization is a well-tolerated treatment for patients with early or intermediate hepatocellular carcinoma who are not suitable for radical treatment or await liver transplantation, but it allows to achieve a sustained complete response in a minority of patients.
- Hepatocellular carcinoma
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