Intermediate tumors (3-5 cm diameter) are difficult to treat. Ablation has historically been less effective against such tumors when compared to those smaller than 3 cm. TACE is not a curative treatment, but can help bridge patients to transplant and offers a survival benefit compared to no therapy. Combining TACE with RF ablation yielded better results than either therapy alone in prior studies, so Amanda Smolock and our team looked at the data to see if the same held true for TACE and microwave ablation in our experience.
The combination of TACE and microwave ablation was much more effective than TACE alone. Rates of local recurrence dropped from 63% to 35% when microwave ablation was added, and the time to recurrence was extended from 4 months to 22 months. Future studies will look at how to optimize the combination and its impact on other tumors.