Trends in the Utilization and Impact of Radiofrequency Ablation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Nader N. Massarweh, James O. Park, Farhood Farjah, Raymond S.W. Yeung, Rebecca Gaston Symons, Thomas L. Vaughan, Laura Mae Baldwin, David R. Flum

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46 Scopus citations


Background: The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is rising and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) appears to be increasingly used. The nationwide use and impact of RFA have not been well characterized. Study Design: We performed an historical cohort study of US patients 18 years old and older, with a diagnosis of HCC (n = 22,103) using the national Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) limited-use database (1998 to 2005). Main outcomes measures were receipt of different therapeutic interventions (ablation, RFA, resection, or transplantation) and adjusted 1- and 2-year survivals. Results: A total of 4,924 (22%) patients underwent any intervention, with a 93% increase over the 8-year study period (trend test, p < 0.001). RFA accounted for 43% of this increase. Despite increased use of therapeutic interventions, 1- and 2-year survival rates did not improve over time for patients in the study cohort (48% and 34%, 52% and 37%, 50% and 36%; in 1998, 2002, and 2004, respectively; p = 0.31). Among patients with solitary lesions, adjusted 1- and 2-year survivals remained stable over time after transplantation (97% and 94%, 95% and 89%, 94% and 86% in 1998, 2002, and 2004, respectively; p = 0.99) and RFA (86% and 64%, 76% and 54%, in 2002 and 2004, respectively; p = 0.97), but improved after resection (83% and 71%, 91% and 84%, 97% and 94% in 1998, 2002, and 2004, respectively; p = 0.03). Conclusions: Use of interventions for the treatment of HCC, and specifically RFA, have markedly increased over time. Because increased use of RFA among patients with potentially resectable disease is likely to occur, and because of a lack of high-level evidence supporting expanded indications, continued evaluation of the indications for RFA and subsequent outcomes among US patients is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-448
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010
Externally publishedYes

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