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JLC : Journal of Liver Cancer

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2 "Early stage HCC"
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Transarterial Approach in Early Stage HCC: From Palliative Therapy to Curative Therapy
Jung Suk Oh, Ho Jong Chun
Journal of the Korean Liver Cancer Study Group. 2012;12(2):93-96.   Published online September 30, 2012
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Early stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) based on BCLC staging system can be curatively treated by liver transplantation, surgical resection or percutaneous ablation. However, transarterial approaches, including transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) or transarterial radioembolization (TARE), are standard of care for intermediate stage HCC and can be an alternative treatment in the patients with early stage HCC which are unresectable, unsuitable for percutaneous ablation, or not eligible for liver transplantation. Many previous TACE studies in early stage HCC revealed that the overall survival rate was competitive with those of curative therapies considering their operation risks, but recurrence-free survival rate was significantly lower than curative therapies. Moreover, the histopathologic reports about TACE in early stage HCC demonstrated that only 38% of the HCC nodules were completely necrotic after TACE and only 81% of the nodules with complete response by EASL criteria showed complete necrosis. Although there is no long-term survival data about TARE in early stage HCC, a histopathologic report about TARE showed that 73% of the HCC nodules were completely necrotic after TARE and 100% of the nodules with complete response by EASL criteria showed complete necrosis. In conclusion, TACE is now limited to be categorized into a curative therapy in early stage HCC, according to the previous data about TACE. However, new recent technologies including C-arm CT, superselective embolization technique, drug-eluting bead (DEB) may sufficiently improve the survival data of TACE to prove its curative role. Considering its RFA-comparable histopathologic tumor response, TARE may prove to be a potential curative therapeutic for early stage HCC.
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Strategies for the Curative Therapy of Early Stage HCC: Resection, Is It Real First Choice?
Wan-Bae Kim
Journal of the Korean Liver Cancer Study Group. 2012;12(2):97-101.   Published online September 30, 2012
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Early stage HCC has generally been defined as the “Milan criteria”: a solitary tumor ≤ 5 cm in size, or ≤ 3 tumors each ≤ 3 cm in size and no evidence of gross vascular invasion. HCC is now increasingly detected at earlier stages. In addition, both liver transplantation and percutaneous ablative therapies have emerged as effective alternatives to hepatic resection. As a result, the ideal treatment strategy for patients with early stage HCC, particularly in the setting of well-preserved hepatic function, has become increasingly controversial. In the recent studies, the survival rates for transplantation in early stage HCC patients are excellent. However, when intention-to-treat analysis is used, dropouts from the waiting list due to death or disease progression clearly diminish long-term survival results and therefore patients are unlikely to benefit from liver transplantation. In addition, salvage transplantation after HCC resection may be performed without excessive morbidity and may result in equivalent survival rates compared with primary liver transplantation. In some studies, salvage transplantation may be feasible in up to 75-80% of patients with recurrence following hepatic resection. Similarly, locoregional therapies serve to sustain patients with HCC on the waiting list until a transplantation become available. While RFA and TACE are commonly used to prevent dropout, pretransplant therapy has not been associated with improved overall survival or disease-free survival due to persistenceof viable tumor. It is important to note that, while resection is a more invasive procedure, the benefit that it holds over nonresectional therapies is the complete removal of the tumor allowing for subsequent detailed pathologic examination of both the tumor and surrounding liver parenchyma. In conclusion, in patients with well-preserved hepatic function, liver resection remains the most appropriate and effective treatment.
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JLC : Journal of Liver Cancer