Background: Currently, no standard of care or therapies have been established for patients with advanced HCC. We evaluated the efficacy and safety of conventional transarterial chemoembolization using gelatin sponges or microspheres plus lipiodol-doxorubicin (cTACE) and TACE with doxorubicin-loaded drug eluting beads (DEB-TACE). Methods: This retrospective study included 273 patients who received cTACE (n = 201) or DEB-TACE. Tumor response, survival, and adverse events were evaluated over a 5-year follow-up period. Results: During 5-year follow-up, a greater percentage of patients treated with cTACE died than those treated with DEB-TACE (76.1% vs. 66.7%) (P = 0.045). At the last evaluation, all surviving patients had disease progression and no differences were seen between treatment groups. However, the time to disease progression differed between groups; median time to disease progression was 11.0 months for cTACE and 16.0 months for DEB-TACE (P = 0.019). The median survival time was 37 months in both treatment groups. No significant differences were observed between cTACE and DEB-TACE therapies in subgroups of patients with BCLC stage A or stage B + C either in survival time or time to disease progression (P values > 0.05). No significant differences were observed in survival status or disease progression between cTACE and DEB-TACE in patient subgroups with either tumor number > 5 or with the sum of the diameter of largest five HCC tumors being > 7 cm. Conclusions: DEB-TACE demonstrates greater long-term benefits than cTACE in treating treatment-naïve patients with HCC. Results of this long-term study support the use of DEB-TACE in treating HCC.
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