Purpose: To retrospectively evaluate the long-term results of radiofrequency (RF) ablation combined with chemoembolization (combination therapy) as compared with hepatectomy for the treatment of early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Materials and Methods: The study was approved by the institutional review board, and informed consent was waived. Patients with early-stage HCC were included if they underwent either combination therapy or hepatectomy and met the following inclusion criteria: no previous treatment for HCC, three or fewer tumors with a maximum diameter of 3 cm or less each or a single tumor with a maximum diameter of 5 cm or less, Child-Pugh class A liver profile, no vascular invasion, and no extrahepatic metastases. The primary endpoint was overall survival, and the secondary endpoint was recurrence-free survival. Results: One hundred four patients (mean age, 66.5 years ± 8.7 [standard deviation]; 79 men, 25 women) underwent combination therapy, and 62 patients (mean age, 64.5 years ± 9.6; 51 men, 11 women) underwent hepatectomy. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year overall survival rates following combination therapy (98%, 94%, and 75%, respectively) were similar (P = .87) to those following hepatectomy (97%, 93%, and 81%, respectively). The 1-, 3-, and 5-year recurrence-free survival rates were also comparable (P = .70) for combination therapy (92%, 64%, and 27%, respectively) and hepatectomy (89%, 69%, and 26%, respectively). Conclusion: RF ablation combined with chemoembolization in patients with early-stage HCC provides overall and disease-free survival rates similar to those achieved by hepatectomy.
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