Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is recommended to treat intermediate/advanced stage of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the overall survival among initially TACE-treated patients varies significantly. The clinical characterization of long-term survival following TACE remains uncertain. We sought to identify clinical parameters and treatment requirements for long-term survival among patients with hepatitis B-related HCC who were initially treated with TACE. The included patients with HCC were admitted to our cancer center between December 2009 and May 2015. Patients who survived for >3 years were compared with those who died within 3 years. The clinical and laboratory findings that were associated with the survival were also analyzed. One in six (17.9%) patients with HCC in this cohort survived for > 3 years after TACE. Body mass index (BMI) ≥ 23kg/m2 , aspartate aminotransferase levels ≤ 40 U/L, an activated partial thromboplastin time ≤ 34 seconds, α-fetoprotein (AFP) levels ≤ 25 ng/mL, antiviral therapy, tumor size ≤ 8 cm, solitary nodule, and the absence of vascular invasion were independently favorably associated with a 3-year survival. An absence of vascular invasion was the only independent factor associated with 3-year survival in patients who received resection and/or ablation after TACE. In this cohort, a 3-year survival was associated with BMI, antivirus treatment, tumor status, hepatic function, and AFP level. Distant metastasis did not negatively impact the long-term survival among patients with hepatitis B-related HCC initially treated with TACE. Vascular invasion was the single impediment to long-term survival in patients who received add-on resection and/or ablation after TACE. © 2019 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.