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A randomized controlled trial of transcatheter arterial chemoembolization with lipiodol, doxorubicin and cisplatin versus intravenous doxorubicin for patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma.

Author(s): Mabed M, Esmaeel M, El-Khodary T, Awad M, Amer T

Affiliation(s): Oncology Center, Faculty of Medicine, Mansoura University, Mansoura, Egypt. mohmabed@mans.edu.eg

Publication date & source: 2009-09, Eur J Cancer Care (Engl)., 18(5):492-9.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major and often therapeutically frustrating oncological problem. A total of 100 patients with unresectable HCC were recruited and randomized to be treated with either transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) or systemic chemotherapy. Fifty patients were treated with TACE using lipiodol, doxorubicin and cisplatin, while 50 patients were treated with systemic doxorubicin alone. Patients treated with TACE achieved a significantly higher response rate, with partial response achieved in 16 patients (32%) versus five patients (10%) in the chemotherapy arm (P = 0.007). A significantly more favourable tumour response to chemoembolization was found in patients with single lesions (P = 0.02), Child class A (P = 0.007), Okuda stage 1 (P = 0.005) and alpha-feto protein less than 400 ng/mL (P < 0.001). The probability of tumour progression was significantly lower in cases treated with TACE where the median progression free survival was 32 weeks (range, 16-70 weeks) versus 26 weeks (range, 14-54 weeks) for patients treated with systemic chemotherapy (P = 0.03). However, the median overall survival did not differ significantly in cases treated with TACE (38 weeks) compared with those treated with chemotherapy (32 weeks) (P = 0.08), except for patients with serum albumin >3.3 g/dL (60 vs. 36 weeks; P = 0.003). Multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that a rise of serum albumin by 1 g/dL is associated with a decrease in the risk of death by 33% (95% confidence interval: 0.12-0.94, P = 0.038). Mortality in the chemoembolization arm was due to tumour progression in 18 patients (53%), liver failure in 11 patients (32%) and gastro intestinal tract (GIT) bleeding in 5 patients (15%). Mortality in the chemotherapy arm was due to tumour progression in 23 patients (64%), liver failure in 9 patients (25%) and GIT bleeding in 4 patients (11%). Treatment-related mortality was 4% in the TACE arm versus 0% in the chemotherapy arm. In conclusion, the overall survival benefits of TACE and systemic doxorubicin are similar for patients with unresectable HCC amenable to either treatment. It is crucial to optimize the benefit-risk ratio of TACE. In this setting, serum albumin level is a candidate marker for selection of cases who may benefit from this procedure.

Page last updated: 2009-10-20

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