Radiation segmentectomy shows promise in treatment of early-stage liver cancer

Radiation segmentectomy (RS) could give physicians a new tool in the fight against early-stage liver cancer, according to a new study published in Radiology. Many patients aren’t eligible for other treatment options—surgery, liver transplantation and radiofrequency ablation, for example—adding even more importance to this new research.  

The authors performed a retrospective study using data from 70 patients with solitary hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) 5 cm or less not amenable to percutaneous ablation. All patients underwent RS between 2003 and 2016. The median age was 71 years old.

Overall, 90 percent of patients showed response based on European Association for the Study of the Liver guidelines and 59 percent of that group showed complete response. Based on World Health Organization guidelines, 71 percent of patients showed response and 16 percent of that group showed complete response.

The median survival for patients was 6.7 years. Survival probability was 98 percent at one year, 66 percent at three years and 57 percent at five years. Patients with solitary HCC 3 cm or smaller had a survival probability of 100 percent at one year, 82 percent at three years and 75 percent at 5 years.

“The results show that we are able to impart curative outcomes to these patients,” senior author Riad Salem, MD, chief of vascular interventional radiology in the department of radiology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said in a prepared statement. “Our numbers with radiation segmentectomy match or outperform those of other curative treatments in terms of tumor control, survival rate and recurrence.”

The researchers will keep following the study group, he added, to help improve patient care going forward.

“We want to see these outcomes validated in patients over the longer term,” Salem said in the same prepared statement. “We also want to minimize the time from clinic visit to treatment, and fine-tune dosimetry so that we can find the optimal dose that will kill the tumor. In the right patient setting, RS can be considered curative.”