Hepatocellular cancer: how to expand safely inclusion criteria for liver transplantation

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The Milan criteria are still considered to be the best ones to select patients with hepatocellular cancer (HCC) for liver transplantation. Although the Milan criteria allowed lowering the incidence of tumor recurrence to a remarkable 10%, there is growing evidence that high numbers of patients were unrightfully excluded from a curative liver transplantation when exceeding these criteria. New strategies have been advocated during recent years with the intent not only to enlarge the number of potential transplant candidates, but also to select recipients with the lowest biological risk of recurrence.

Recent findings

Different ‘biological’ and ‘dynamic’ parameters have been proposed both in western and eastern scenarios, such as α-fetoprotein dynamics, radiological response to locoregional treatments and several inflammatory markers, the neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio being the most promising one.

Summary

The paradigm that HCC patients should be selected according to morphological aspects (tumor numbers and diameters) only, based on the almost 20-year old success story of the Milan criteria, should be modified by combining these parameters with newer biological tumor markers in order to further refine the selection for liver transplantation. Such therapeutic algorithm will allow to further improve selection for and thus outcome after liver transplantation for HCC patients.

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