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Semin Liver Dis. 2005;25(2):181-200.

Resection and liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1BCLC Group, Liver Unit, Digestive Disease Institute, IDIBAPS, Hospital ClĂ­nic, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Josep.Llovet@mssm.edu


Surveillance programs in cirrhotic patients enable the detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) at early stages, when the tumor is amenable to curative treatments (60% of cases in Japan; 25 to 40% in Europe and the United States). Resection is the mainstay of treatment in noncirrhotic patients and in cirrhotics with well-preserved liver function. In modern series, a perioperative mortality < or = 3% and 5-year survival rates above 50% are expected. Tumor recurrence complicates half of the cases at 3 years, but there is no unquestionable preventive treatment. Liver transplantation provides excellent outcomes applying the Milan criteria (single nodule < or = 5 cm or two or three nodules < or = 3 cm), with 5-year survival rates of 70% and low recurrence rates. Although expansion of selection criteria is appealing, it should be assessed in the setting of prospective well-designed studies. Intention-to-treat analysis has shown that wide extended indications lead to 25% 5-year survival rates. Living donor liver transplantation is having a minor impact in HCC management. Molecular markers are needed to better select the candidates for surgery.

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