In spite of the nice screening program using the state-of-the-art imaging modalities, most patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are not eligible for curative resection due to poor hepatic functional reserve and multiplicity of the tumors. Therefore they greatly rely on percutaneous interventional procedures. Among these, transcatheter arterial chemoembolization and local ablation therapies including ethanol injection therapy or radiofrequency (RF) thermal ablation have gained wider acceptance for the local treatment of unresectable HCC with growing evidence of survival gain. Although we need more prospective randomized trials to determine the definite role of these interventional therapies, the current consensus is that they are safe and effective for the local control of small HCC and have a potential to replace definitive surgical options. In this review, the basic principles and published clinical results including long-term survival rates and complications are reviewed. The benefits and limitations of each therapy are also discussed.
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