Good Survival, Outcomes With TARE for HCC

Patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) can be offered transarterial radioembolization (TARE) as a safe and effective first-line treatment or adjunct to other locoregional therapies, authors of a large multicenter study reported.

Among 422 patients with HCC treated with TARE in eight European countries, the median overall survival was 16.5 months, with fewer than 10% of patients experiencing grade 3 or greater adverse events, reported Frank Kolligs, MD, from Helios Hospital Berlin-Buch.

“This exploratory study evaluated factors that can influence the application and outcome of transarterial radioembolization in clinical practice. TARE is generally applied according to guideline recommendations, and randomized, controlled trials are needed to confirm the effect of personalized dosimetry on the effectiveness of TARE,” he said in an oral abstract presented at the meeting sponsored by the European Association for the Study of the Liver.

Intriguingly, the investigators found evidence suggesting that patients whose treatments were planned using a partition model had better survival outcomes than those patients who treatments were based on calculated body surface area or measured BSA (mBSA), but this finding will need to be explored in more detail, Kolligs said.

The partition model incorporates variables such as tumor volume and liver volume, shunt fractions, the ratio of radiation uptake between tumor and normal tissues, vascular anatomy and other factors to estimate the optimal dose.

Study Design

Kolligs and colleagues looked at prospective data from the Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiological Society of Europe (CIRSE) Registry for SIR-Spheres Therapy to evaluate the real-world clinical application of TARE with yttrium Y-90 resin microspheres in Europe, clinical outcomes, safety, and quality of life.

They selected data from centers with a minimum of 10 cases performed in the previous 12 months and at least 40 total cases overall.

The patients included adults 18 years and older scheduled for treatment with Y-90 resin microspheres for primary or metastatic liver tumors, with no specific exclusion criteria. The patients were followed for at least 24 months at recommended intervals of every 3 months. The first patient was enrolled in January 2015, and the last follow-up visit was in December 2019. A total of 422 registry patients had a diagnosis of HCC and were included in the study.

The median age was 68 years (range, 60-74), 80.8% were male, 70.9% had cirrhosis, 14.5% had ascites, and 8.5% had extrahepatic disease. About 32% of patients had one tumor nodule, 33% had two to five nodules, and the remainder had either more than five or an uncountable number.

In all, 14% of patients had Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer stage A disease, 51.4% had stage B, 33.6% had stage C, and 0.9% stage D.

About one-third of patients had portal vein occlusion. Tumors were in both left and right lobes in 35.5%, the left lobe alone in 12.1%, and the right lobe alone in 52.4%.

Half of all patients (50.2%) received TARE as first-line therapy, 44.8% had it following surgery (17.1%), ablation (14.7%), and/or transarterial chemoembolization (; 23%). In addition, 9.7% of patients received systemic therapy prior to TARE, primarily with sorafenib (Nexavar).

Treatment intent was palliative for 57.3% of patients, and tumor downsizing/downstaging in 32.5% (remainder unspecified).

Survival and Prognostic Factors

As noted before, median overall survival was 16.5 months. Median progression-free survival was 6.1 months, and median hepatic PFS was 6.7 months.

Factors prognostic for better overall survival included hepatitis B or C virus as the cirrhosis cause versus alcohol (hazard ratio for death, 0.51 for each; P = .0060 for HBV and P = .0007 for HCV); unilobar versus bilobar tumors (HR, 0.67; P = .0422 for left-lobe; HR 0.55; P < .0001 for right); prior surgery (HR, 0.67; P = .0258); prior ablation (HR, 0.65; P = .0394); and curative versus palliative intent (HR, 0.53; P < .0001).

Factors associated with worse overall survival were presence of ascites (HR 1.75, P = .001); presence of extrahepatic disease before TARE (HR, 1.81, P = .0037); tumor burden greater than 5 nodules (HR, 1.67; P = .0073); main portal vein occlusion (HR, 2.14; P = .0064); lobar portal vein occlusion (HR, 1.77; P = .0083); total bilirubin greater than 1.5 mg/dL (HR, 1.69; P = .0094); albumin-bilirubin grade A2 (HR, 1.66; P = .0005); ALB1 grade A3 (HR, 3.92; P < .0001); and BSA/mBSA versus partition-model dosimetry (HR, 1.89; P < .0001).

The safety analysis showed that 36.7% of patients had at least one adverse event, but only 7.1% had at least one grade 3 or greater event.

Grade 3 or greater events were abdominal pain (nine patients), fatigue (six), nausea (three), radioembolization-induced liver disease (three), vomiting (two), and GI ulceration (one). Fifteen additional patients had other unspecified events.

The investigators acknowledged broad inclusion criteria, relatively high rates of loss to follow-up, and differences in national guidelines and local standards of practice as potential limitations to their findings.

In the question-and-answer following the presentation, session comoderator María Varela, MD, PhD, a pathologist in the liver unit at the Hospital Universitario Central de Asturia, Oviedo, Spain, questioned why about one-third of patients received TARE for downstaging, but only 13 underwent subsequent surgical resection.

“We don’t have a detailed analysis of this subgroup of patients who received curative intent as yet, ” Kolligs said.

Pierre Nahon, MD, from the University of Paris and Hôpital Jean Verdier in Bondy, France, commented that, among this heterogenous population, one of the best indications for TARE is probably localized HCC with adjacent portal vein thrombosis.

He asked whether the investigators had examined overall survival among patients with localized unilobar HCC with adjacent small portal vein thrombosis.

“We find that patients with portal vein occlusion have a worse prognosis in the total group,” Kolligs replied. “To look into the question whether partial thrombosis with a small tumor might benefit is an interesting question, and we should look into that, but I don’t have any data on that yet.”

Another audience member asked: “According to your data, which patients are the best candidates for radioembolization?”

“According to these data, the best candidates are of course patients with good liver function, ascites should ideally not be present, and what is probably is important is that we identify or include patients without extrahepatic disease,” he said.

The study was sponsored by CIRSE. Kolligs disclosed speaking activities and consulting for several companies. Varela disclosed speaking for several companies and advisory board activity for Bayer. Nahon disclosed honoraria and consulting fees from several companies.

This article originally appeared on, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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