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Randomized clinical trial of hepatic resection versus radiofrequency ablation for early‐stage hepatocellular carcinoma. BJS 2017; 104: 1775-1784.

Published: 1st November 2017

Authors: K. K. C. Ng, K. S. H. Chok, A. C. Y. Chan, T. T. Cheung, T. C. L. Wong, J. Y. Y. Fung et al.

Background

Hepatic resection and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) are treatment options for early‐stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Whether tumour recurrence and long‐term survival favour either treatment has not been established. This randomized trial aimed to test the hypothesis that RFA is superior to hepatic resection in terms of lower tumour recurrence rate and better long‐term survival.

Method

Patients with early‐stage HCC (solitary tumour no larger than 5 cm; or no more than 3 tumours, each 3 cm or smaller) were randomized into hepatic resection and RFA groups. Demographic and clinical characteristics, and short‐ and long‐term outcome measures were compared between groups. Primary and secondary outcome measures were overall tumour recurrence and survival respectively.

Results

Clinicopathological data were similar in the two groups, which each contained 109 patients. The RFA group had a shorter treatment duration, less blood loss and shorter hospital stay than the resection group. Mortality and morbidity rates were similar in the two groups. The overall tumour recurrence rate was similar in the resection and RFA groups (71·3 versus 81·7 per cent respectively). The 1‐, 3‐, 5‐ and 10‐year overall survival rates were 94·5, 80·6, 66·5 and 47·6 per cent respectively in the resection group, compared with 95·4, 82·3, 66·4 and 41·8 per cent in the RFA group (P = 0·531). Corresponding disease‐free survival rates were 74·1, 50·9, 41·5 and 31·9 per cent in the resection group, and 70·6, 46·6, 33·6 and 18·6 per cent in the RFA group (P = 0·072).

Conclusion

RFA for early‐stage HCC is not superior to hepatic resection, in terms of tumour recurrence, overall survival and disease‐free survival. Registration number: HKUCTR‐10 (http://www.hkuctr.com).

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