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Two Liver Cancer Treatments Better Than One
Date:4/8/2008

't be resected [surgically removed], liver transplantation is the definitive treatment," he said, adding that transplantation might not be as available in China as it is in the United States.

Although TACE and RFA used individually can extend survival, the Chinese researchers hoped that by combining the techniques, they could increase survival times even more.

In a randomized, controlled trial, the researchers used one of three treatment techniques on people with hepatocellular carcinoma larger than 3 centimeters. Ninety-six people were assigned to the TACE-RFA combination, 95 to TACE alone and 100 to RFA alone.

Average survival time was 37 months for the combination therapy group compared to 24 months for TACE alone and 22 months for RFA alone.

The rate of responses lasting for at least six months rose to 54 percent in the combination group, versus 35 percent for the TACE group and 36 percent for the RFA group, the researchers found.

Side effects were similar between the groups, though RFA had the lowest rate of certain side effects, such as a low white blood cell count.

Cheng cautioned that these results may not be as applicable in the Western world, such as the United States or Japan, because the underlying cause of liver cancer in China is hepatitis B, whereas in the Western world, it tends to be hepatitis C or alcohol abuse. He hopes that similar clinical trials will be performed in the United States, Europe or Japan to see if the results are the same.

"Many of us have become aware that the standard approach of attacking a tumor with one modality isn't as good. Multimodal therapy is the new buzzword in cancer treatment," said Kinkhabwala. "It's really a belt-and-suspenders approach. You're targeting the tumor in different ways. This paper is important, because it's the first to look at this combination in a controlled way, and the combo approach does work. This confirms what our
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