Radiation therapy (RT) may be suitable for treating patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who are difficult to treat with any other option. However, it remains unclear whether RT extends survival in these patients. Among the 957 HCC patients treated at Tohoku University Hospital from January 2007 to December 2013, only 49 patients received RT. We therefore retrospectively analyzed the outcomes of these patients; they were divided into three groups based on the reasons for choosing RT: 27 patients at Stage IV A (67.1 ± 1.6 years, 50.5 ± 2.1 Gy), 9 patients with alternative therapy (72.2 ± 2.4 years, 58.9 ± 1.1 Gy), and 13 patients who received RT after transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) (75.6 ± 2.1 years, 56.5 ± 1.5 Gy). RT was employed to ensure the local control of the lesion. The patients at Stage IV A were treated with radical RT (n = 16) or with palliative RT (n = 11). In radical RT group, the response rate was 37.5% and the complete response rate was 25%. The survival rate was 12.5 ± 2.6 months after radical RT. This is considered relatively good for Stage IV A. The disease-free survival rate was 13.0 ± 2.8 months after RT. This excellent disease-free survival indicates that RT is an alternative to other treatments. In the TACE group, patients who received the RT had the significantly long disease-free survival rate than only-TACE (18.0 ± 3.8 months vs. 11.2 ± 0.58 months). We propose that RT is effective and safe for HCC.
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