Radiofrequency ablation, PEIT, and TACE for hepatocellular carcinoma
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At detection or over time, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is multicentric in origin, against a background of chronic hepatic disease at different stages. Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is the only therapy able to definitely cure both diseases. When OLT is not feasible, all other options can be only palliative. Owing to the multicentricity, surgical resection may be one possible option at the initial detection in selected patients, whereas percutaneous interventional techniques (percutaneous ethanol injection [PEI], radiofrequency ablation [RFA], selected transcatheter arterial chemoembolization [TACE]) are the options more often used. The range of their indications is becoming wider. Although it is understood that partial resection assures the greatest local control, the survival rates after surgery are roughly comparable with those obtained with PEI. The explanation for this result reflects a balance among the advantages and disadvantages of the two therapies. PEI survival curves are better than curves of resected patients who present with adverse prognostic factors, and this means that a better selection of the patients for surgery is needed. An open question remains the choice among percutaneous techniques. In our department we currently use RFA in most patients but consider PEI and selected TACE complementary, and use them according to the features of the disease and the response.
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