Improved Results of Transplantation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Report From the International Registry of Hepatic Tumors in Liver Transplantation

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Abstract

Improved outcome after liver transplantation (LTX) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) made LTX a legitimate treatment of the disease. We analyzed trends of LTX for HCC with tumors known before transplantation in 902 patients in a large international registry across 3 periods: 1983–1990, 1991–1996, and 1997–2005. Patient survival improved gradually across eras, with 5-year survival rates of 25.3%, 44.4%, and 67.8%, respectively (P < 0.0001), and the 5-year tumor recurrence rate declined from 59% to 41.3% and 15%, respectively (P < 0.0001). The number of HCC nodules and tumor size decreased over time, and there were fewer moderately or poorly differentiated tumors. Tumors > 5 cm decreased from 54.5% to 31.7% and 11.7%, respectively (P < 0.0001), and LTX with ≥4 nodules decreased from 38.9% to 23.5% and 15.1%, respectively (P = 0.0044). Poorly differentiated tumors decreased from 37.2% to 31.8% and 20.3%, respectively (P = 0.0005). Tumor microvascular invasion remained at 21.2% to 23.8% despite changes in patient selection over time (P = 0.7124). Stepwise Cox regression analysis (n = 502) showed significant risk for tumor recurrence and patient survival for transplants before 1997 [hazard ratio (HR), 1.82 and 1.88, respectively], tumor size > 6 cm (HR, 2.09 and 1.76), microvascular invasion (HR, 1.75 and 1.69, respectively), and alpha-fetoprotein > 200 (HR, 2.45 and 2.32, respectively). In conclusion, outcome after LTX for HCC has improved continuously over the past 20 years. Improved perioperative care and better patient selection may partially explain the improved outcome after LTX for HCC. Liver Transpl 15:574–580, 2009. © 2009 AASLD.

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