Thermal Ablation versus Surgical Resection for the Treatment of Stage T1 Hepatocellular Carcinoma in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Database Population
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PURPOSE: To compare survival outcomes of small solitary hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) treated with thermal ablation vs resection in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) cohort. MATERIALS AND METHODS: SEER data (November 2014 submission) were searched for histologic diagnoses of HCC and stage T1 disease (≤ 5-cm solitary tumor without vascular invasion). Comparison was made between thermal ablation and resection as the primary treatment. Overall and disease-specific survival were compared by log-rank tests (stratified for presence of fibrosis) and Cox regression (with tumor size and presence of fibrosis covariates). RESULTS: Of 264 patients with ≤ 2-cm HCCs, 185 underwent thermal ablation and 79 underwent resection. Patients undergoing ablation had higher Ishak scores (P = .0002). There was no difference in survival (observed P = .698, disease-specific P = .446). Of 544 patients with 2.1-4-cm HCCs, 335 underwent thermal ablation and 209 underwent resection. Patients undergoing ablation were more likely to have higher Ishak scores (P < .001), but had slightly smaller tumors (2.9 vs 3.1 cm; P < .001). There was no difference in survival (observed P = .174, disease-specific P = .609). Of 112 patients with 4.1-5-cm HCCs, 46 underwent thermal ablation and 66 underwent resection. Patients undergoing ablation had higher Ishak scores (P = .0002). Surgical resection was associated with improved survival (observed P = .009, disease-specific P = .046). CONCLUSIONS: There was no difference in overall or disease-specific survival between surgical resection and thermal ablation for T1 HCCs ≤ 4 cm after adjusting for the presence of histologic fibrosis and tumor size in the SEER cohort. Significant benefit was observed with surgery for tumors measuring 4.1-5 cm.
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