*Division of Medical Imaging and Interventional Radiology, Center of Medical Image and Image Guided Therapy, Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center †State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Guangzhou ‡Department of Oncology, The 6th People Hospital of Shenzhen, Shenzhen §Medical Oncology, The Second People Hospital of Sichuan, Sichuan, P.R. China.
This study evaluated the clinical efficacy of autologous cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cell transfusion in combination with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA), compared to sequential therapy with TACE and RFA, for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We retrospectively studied 2 groups of HCC patients: 85 patients in the TACE+RFA+CIK group were treated with adoptive autologous CIK cell transfusion in combination with minimally invasive therapy, 89 patients in the TACE+RFA group were treated with minimally invasive therapy alone. The overall response rate was 76.5% in the TACE+RFA+CIK group and 79.8% in the TACE+RFA group. The disease control rate was higher in the TACE+RFA+CIK group than that in the TACE+RFA group (95.3% vs. 88.8%), but the difference was not significant (P=0.113). Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that the patients in the TACE+RFA+CIK group had significantly longer overall survival (56 vs. 31 mo, P=0.001) and progression-free survival (17 vs. 10 mo, P=0.001) than those in the TACE+RFA group. No severe side effects occurred in the CIK cell transfusion patients. In conclusion, CIK cell immunotherapy may be a valuable therapeutic strategy to prevent recurrence and metastasis in HCC patients after TACE and RFA, and to improve patient prognosis and quality of life. Combined CIK immunotherapy and minimally invasive therapies represent a safe, potential treatment modality for HCC. However, because patient assignment to the 2 treatments was not randomized, any conclusions concerning improvements in survival must be interpreted with great caution.