This study was performed to determine the effect of radiotherapy (RT) combined with transcatheter arterial embolization (TAE) and percutaneous ethanol injection (PEI) on large HCC. Between 1988 and 1996, 102 patients with unresectable, biopsy proven HCC underwent uniform pretreatment assessment followed by TAE and PEI. Of the 102 patients, 68 (67%) had more than 2 lesions in the liver, and the largest tumor sizes in each patient ranged from 3 to 8 cm in diameter. Immediately after TAE and PEI, external beam RT (36 to 70 Gy) was administered to the largest tumors only in 44 patients. The cause-specific 5-year survival rate for all patients was 39.9%. The 3-year survival rate of the RT group was better than that of the no RT group (81.1% vs. 54.6%). The cumulative local control rates of the largest treated tumors were 53.2% in the RT group and 32.7% in the no RT, respectively (p=0.006). When the survival rate was compared between patients with and without local control in the RT group, that of patients with local control was significantly better than that with local recurrences (p=0.048). No deaths or major treatment related complications occurred. RT combined with TAE and PEI did not clearly show improvement of the survival, however, it effectively controlled large HCC, and demonstrated minimal toxicity. This treatment may represent therapeutic option for some patients with unresectable large HCC.
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