Resection for Hepatocellular Carcinoma is a Good Option in Child-Turcotte-Pugh Class A Patients With Cirrhosis Who Are Eligible for Liver Transplantation

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The best treatment option for patients with single, early hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cirrhosis, good liver function, and absence of portal hypertension remains to be established. The aim of this work was to compare the outcome of liver resection (LR) with that of liver transplantation (LT) for single, early HCC in Child-Turcotte-Pugh class A patients with cirrhosis younger than 70 years of age. Thirty-seven of 134 patients who underwent LR and 36 of 125 who underwent LT for HCC in our unit fulfilled the inclusion criteria. No differences were observed in mean tumor size (3 cm); HCV cirrhosis predominated in the LT group and older age in the LR group. Postoperative mortality was higher and hospital stay longer in the LT group. Patient survival was similar in both groups. Tumor recurrence was higher in the LR group (59% vs. 11%), extrahepatic recurrences predominated after LT and hepatic recurrences after LR. Disease-free survival was significantly better after LT. Eighteen patients presented hepatic recurrence after LR: 5 advanced and 13 early. Seventeen patients—13 with early HCC recurrence and 4 with liver failure—were potential candidates for salvage LT. However, 10 of 17 patients were older than 70 years at this time. Salvage LT could only be performed in 6 patients: 5 for HCC recurrence and 1 for liver failure. Results of salvage LT were similar to those of primary LT. In conclusion, only 27.6% of resected patients were eligible for LT. LR is a good option since it offers similar survival to LT. Salvage liver transplantation was performed in 16.2% of resected patients, with older age being the main contraindication. Outcome of salvage LT was similar to that of primary LT.

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