Percutaneous Local Ablative Therapy for Hepatocellular Carcinoma. A Review and Look Into the Future

W. Y. Lau, Thomas W. T. Leung, Simon C. H. Yu, and Stephen K. W. Ho


To review and compare treatment result for percutaneous local ablative therapy (PLAT) with surgical resection in the treatment of small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Summary Background Data
PLAT is indicated for small unresectable HCC localized to the liver. From the use of ethanol to the latest technology of radiofrequency ablation, ablative techniques have been refined and their role in the management of HCC established. This review aims to give an overview of various ablative methods, including their efficacy, indications, and limitations, and also tries to look into the future of clinical trials in PLAT.


The authors reviewed recent papers in the English medical literature about the use of local ablative therapy for HCC. Focus was given to the results of treatment in terms of local control, progression-free survival, and overall survival, and to compare treatment results with those of surgery.

PLAT for small HCC (<5 cm) with thermal ablation (radiofrequency ablation or microwave coagulation) can achieve effective local control of disease and is superior to ethanol injection. Progressive disease in untreated areas is a common reason for failure. Overall progression-free survival is similar to that of surgical resection.

Thermal ablation gives good local control of small HCC, is superior to ethanol, and may be comparable to surgical resection in long-term outcome.

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