Ethnic disparities and liver transplantation rates in hepatocellular carcinoma patients in the recent era: Results from the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results registry

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. After the implementation of the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease system, rates of liver transplantation (LT) for HCC patients increased. However, it is not clear whether this trend has continued into recent times. Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registry (1998-2010), we retrospectively analyzed trends for LT among HCC patients in 3 time periods: 1998-2003, 2004-2008, and 2009-2010. A total of 60,772 HCC patients were identified. In the more recent time periods, the proportion of localized-stage HCC increased (45.0% in 1998-2003, 50.4% in 2004-2008, and 51.7% in 2009-2010; P < 0.001). Although the proportion of HCC patients within the Milan criteria also increased with time (22.8% in 1998-2003, 31.8% in 2004-2008, and 37.1% in 2009-2010; P < 0.001), the proportion of those patients undergoing LT increased from 1998-2003 to 2004-2008 but decreased from 2004-2008 to 2009-2010. However, the actual frequencies of LT were similar in 2004-2008 (208.2 per year) and 2009-2010 (201.5 per year). A multivariate logistic regression, including sex, age, ethnicity, Milan criteria, tumor stage, tumor size and number, and time periods, demonstrated a lower likelihood of LT in 2009-2010 versus 1998-2003 [odds ratio (OR) = 0.63, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.57-0.71]. Blacks (OR = 0.48, 95% CI = 0.41-0.56), Asians (OR = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.57-0.73), and Hispanics (OR = 0.76, 95% CI = 0.68-0.85) were all less likely to undergo LT in comparison with non-Hispanic whites. Despite the increasing proportion of patients with HCC diagnosed at an earlier stage, LT rates declined in the most recent era. In addition, ethnic minorities were significantly less likely to undergo LT. The growing imbalance between the number of transplant-eligible HCC patients and the shortage of donor livers emphasizes the need to improve donor availability and curative alternatives to LT. Liver Transpl 20:528–535, 2014. © 2014 AASLD.

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