Percutaneous approaches, such as percutaneous ethanol injection and radiofrequency ablation, have been most widely used for hepatocellular carcinoma patients who were not eligible for singery. New technologies to improve the efficacy are currently needed. 166Holmium is a neutron activated radionuclide, and has several beneficial radiophysical characteristics for internal radiation therapy. 166Holmium-Chitosan complex, in which chitosan is chelated with 166Holmium, was developed as a radiopharmaceutical for cancer therapy. We have conducted a pilot study to evaluate the clinical efficacy of transarterial administration of 166Holmium-Chitosan complex in patients with a single and small (< 3 cm) hepatocellular carcinoma. 166Holmium-Chitosan complex, at a dose of 20 mCi per cm of tumor mass-diameter, was administered through the artery that directly fed the tumor. Twelve patients were treated with a median follow-up duration of 26 (range; 12-61) months. The tumor diameter ranged between 1.5 and 2.5 cm. Ten patients (83%) had complete response and two (17%) had partial response. The median complete response duration was not reached. The median AFP level declined from 83.8 to 8.3 ng/mL within 2 months after treatment. No grade III/IV toxicity was observed. Grade I and II toxicities were observed in four patients (2 abdominal pain. 1 fever, and 1 AST/ALT elevation). No toxic death occurred. This preliminary study shows a promising and durable complete response rate with an acceptable safety profile. Further studies with greater accrual of patients are warranted.
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