Aim: This retrospective study was undertaken to analyze the outcome of hepatic resection in hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) that shrunk after transcatheter hepatic arterial chemoembolization (TACE) in 65 patients with unresectable HCCs between June 1987 and September 1996. Materials and Methods: Among these 65 patients, the median diameter of the tumor was 9.9 cm (5.6–20.0) prior to the first TACE, after 1–6 times of TACE (median 3) the median tumor diameter reduced to 3.7 cm (1.9–12.5) prior to resection. The duration between the last TACE treatment and sequential resection varied from 1 to 9 months (median 2.5). Serum α-fetoprotein (AFP) levels were abnormal in 39 out of the 65 patients. In AFP producing HCCs, the AFP level returned to normal (≤20 µg/l) in 14 out of 39 patients (35.9%). Hepatic segmentectomy, multiple hepatic segmentectomy or partial hepatic resection were performed in 61 patients, right hemihepatectomy in 1, left trisegmentectomy in 2, and left hemihepatectomy in 1. Results: Tumor necrosis ranged from 40 to 100% and pathologically and complete tumor necrosis occurred in 11 patients (16.9%). Of 14 patients with AFP levels decreased to normal, 10 still had microscopic living tumor foci. The 1-, 3- and 5-year survival rates of the 65 patients were 80.0, 65.0 and 56.0% respectively. Conclusion: TACE treatment can provide a chance of tumor resection for those patients with initially judged unresectable HCCs, and liver resection should be performed when the tumor has shrunk to be resectable, even when the AFP level has returned to normal.

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