Eighty-four patients with unresectable primary hepatocellular carcinoma due either to locally advanced lesion or to association with liver cirrhosis were treated with combined radiotherapy and hyperthermia from April 1988 to January 1991. Purpose of this study was to assess thermometry, response rate, toxicity, and survival in those patients. External radiotherapy was given with a total of 30.6 Gy/3.5 wks. Hyperthermia was given twice a week with a total of 6 treatment sessions using an 8 MHz radiofrequency capacitive type heating machine. Each hyperthermia session was started within 30 min following radiotherapy and continued for 30-60 min. Thermal data were analysed with maximum, minimum, and average temperatures of the tumors. Thermal mapping was also done. In thermometry results, maximum, minimum, and average temperatures of the tumors were 41.9 +/- 1.3 degrees C, 39.9 +/- 1.0 degrees C, and 40.8 +/- 0.9 degrees C, respectively. The fraction over 40 degrees C was 73 +/- 32% with a wide variation from 15% to 100%. Among 67 assessable patients, 27 patients showed tumor regression of more than 50% of the original tumor volume (40.3% response rate). Symptomatic improvement was observed in 78.6% of the patients. Acute toxicities during the treatment were mostly acceptable local pain (51.2%) and local fat necrosis (13.1%). The actuarial 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year survival rates were 44.8%, 19.7%, and 15.6%, respectively. Median survival was 6 months. In view of acceptable toxicities and the current rate of survival, further evaluation of combined treatment of radiotherapy and hyperthermia for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma is warranted.
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