High rate of complete histopathological response in hepatocellular carcinoma patients after combined transarterial chemoembolization and stereotactic body radiation therapy

Ulrike Bauer, Sabine Gerum, Falk Roeder, Stefan Münch, Stephanie E. Combs, Alexander B. Philipp, Enrico N. de Toni, Martha M. Kirstein, Arndt Vogel, Carolin Mogler, Bernhard Haller, Jens Neumann, Rickmer F. Braren, Marcus R. Makowski, Philipp Paprottka, Markus Guba, Fabian Geisler, Roland M. Schmid, Andreas Umgelter, Ursula Ehmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND Liver transplantation (LT) presents a curative treatment option in patients with early stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who are not eligible for resection or ablation therapy. Due to a risk of up 30% for waitlist drop-out upon tumor progression, bridging therapies are used to halt tumor growth. Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) and less commonly stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) or a combination of TACE and SBRT, are used as bridging therapies in LT. However, it remains unclear if one of those treatment options is superior. The analysis of explant livers after transplantation provides the unique opportunity to investigate treatment response by histopathology. AIM To analyze histopathological response to a combination of TACE and SBRT in HCC in comparison to TACE or SBRT alone. METHODS In this multicenter retrospective study, 27 patients who received liver transplantation for HCC were analyzed. Patients received either TACE or SBRT alone, or a combination of TACE and SBRT as bridging therapy to liver transplantation. Liver explants of all patients who received at least one TACE and/or SBRT were analyzed for the presence of residual vital tumor tissue by histopathology to assess differences in treatment response to bridging therapies. Statistical analysis was performed using Fisher-Freeman-Halton exact test, Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney-U tests. RESULTS Fourteen patients received TACE only, four patients SBRT only, and nine patients a combination therapy of TACE and SBRT. There were no significant differences between groups regarding age, sex, etiology of underlying liver disease or number and size of tumor lesions. Strikingly, analysis of liver explants revealed that almost all patients in the TACE and SBRT combination group (8/9, 89%) showed no residual vital tumor tissue by histopathology, whereas TACE or SBRT alone resulted in significantly lower rates of complete histopathological response (0/14, 0% and 1/4, 25%, respectively, P value < 0.001). CONCLUSION Our data suggests that a combination of TACE and SBRT increases the rate of complete histopathological response compared to TACE or SBRT alone in bridging to liver transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3630-3642
Number of pages13
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume27
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Bridging therapy
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Liver transplantation
  • Stereotactic body radiation therapy
  • Transarterial chemoembolization

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