Background: Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is effective for early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma but recurrence is problem. Goals: To identify prognostic factors including alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) for overall survival and intrahepatic recurrence after RFA. Patients and Methods: Not only naïve but also previously treated patients with solitary hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinoma <5 cm were prospectively enrolled and a ≥50% decrease from baseline to 1 month after RFA was defined as an initial AFP response. Tumor responses were assessed by the modified response evaluation criteria in solid tumors. Results: Among 255 patients, 156 patients (61.2%) developed intrahepatic recurrence. Radiologic progression occurred in 54.8% (86/157) in the AFP responders and 71.4% (70/98) in the AFP nonresponders. In multivariate analysis, a history of previous treatment [hazard ratio (HR), 2.037; P=0.015 for percutaneous ethanol injection vs. none; and HR, 2.642; P<0.001 for transarterial chemoembolization vs. none] and an initial AFP nonresponse (HR, 1.899; P<0.001) were independent predictors of accelerated progression after RFA. Moreover, those who had a history of previous treatment and did not achieve an initial AFP response had significantly unfavorable overall survival (HR, 3.581; P<0.001) and the increased risk of intrahepatic remote recurrence (HR, 5.385; P<0.001) compared with those with an initial AFP response and no history of previous treatment. Conclusions: Biological response evaluation by the measurement of serial AFP levels is a useful predictor of overall survival and intrahepatic remote recurrence after RFA. Therefore, an initial AFP response may aid in determining the need of closer follow-up as a therapeutic response indicator of RFA.
- hepatocellular carcinoma
- radiofrequency ablation