BACKGROUND: The preferred choice between surgical treatment and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) for the treatment of small resectable hepatocelluar carcinoma (HCC) has become a subject for debate.
METHODS: We compared the results of hepatic resection (n = 199) with those of RFA (n = 87), of which 69 patients were treated with transcatheter arterial chemoembolization followed by RFA, for 286 patients with 3 or fewer nodules, none of which exceeded 3 cm in diameter at Hiroshima University Hospital.
RESULTS: In subgroup analysis of single HCC with tumor size exceeding 2 cm in Child-Pugh class A, the disease-free survival time was significantly longer in the surgical resection group than in the RFA group (P = 0.048). In the subgroups of a single and multiple HCC with tumor size ≤2 cm in Child-Pugh class A, the overall and disease-free survival rates were almost the same for the surgical resection and RFA groups (P = 0.46 and 0.58, respectively, in single HCC, and P = 0.98 and 0.98, respectively, in multiple HCC).
CONCLUSION: Surgical resection may provide better long-term disease-free survival than RFA in the subgroup of a single HCC exceeding 2 cm of Child-Pugh class A.