Aim: To evaluate the efficacy of combination chemotherapy with interferon-α (IFNα) and 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods: Twenty-eight HCC patients in advanced stage were enrolled in the study. They were treated with IFNα/5-FU combination chemotherapy. One cycle of therapy lasted for 4 wk. IFNα (3×106 units) was subcutaneously injected thrice weekly on days 1, 3, and 5 for 3 wk, and 5-FU (500 mg/d) was administered via the proper hepatic artery for 5 consecutive days per week for 3 wk. No drugs were administered during the 4th wk. The effect of combination chemotherapy was evaluated in each patient after every cycle based on the reduction of tumor volume. Results: After the 1st cycle of therapy, 16 patients showed a partial response (PR, 57.1%) but none showed a complete response (CR, 0%). At the end of therapy, the number of patients who showed a CR, PR, or no response (NR) was 1, 10, and 17, respectively. The response rate for therapy (CR+PR) was 21.5%. Biochemical tests before therapy were compared between responsive (CR+PR) and non-responsive (NR) patients, but no significant differences were found for any of the parameters examined, indicating that no reasonable predictors could be identified in our analysis. Conclusion: Attempts should be made to discriminate between responders and non-responders by evaluating tumor size after the first cycle of IFNα/5-FU combination chemotherapy. For non-responders, therapy should not proceed to the next cycle, and instead, different combination of anticancer drugs should be explored.
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