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Transplantation. 2006 Jun 15;81(11):1532-41.

Liver transplantation and recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma: predictive value of nodule size in a retrospective and explant study.

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  • 1Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Medicine Unit, London UK, Royal Free Hospital London, United Kingdom.



Recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after liver transplantation (LT) remains a major cause of post-LT death.


To assess which preoperative and postoperative variables were related to recurrence of HCC after LT in patients with cirrhosis and HCC, we evaluated 96 patients with cirrhosis (74 with known HCC and 22 with incidental HCC) who survived more than 1 month after LT.


The median waiting list time was 36 days (range 1-370 days), and the median interval from detection to transplant was 180 days (range 14-1460 days). The size of largest nodule on imaging was strongly associated with recurrence (odds ratio 1.03; 95% confidence interval 0.99-1.06; P=0.064) when transplantation was performed for known HCC. Among postoperative variables, only the largest nodule diameter (independently of the number of smaller nodules) was multivariately associated with recurrence (odds ratio 1.05; 95% confidence interval 1.01-1.08; P=0.005). The best predictive cutoff was 35 mm in diameter, based on a receiver operating curve with 1-, 3-, and 5-year recurrence-free survival of 90%, 73%, and 49%, respectively, for patients with a nodule 35 mm in diameter or more compared with 96%, 93%, and 89% (P=0.0005), respectively, for patients with smaller nodules.


In our cohort with a short waiting list time, only the largest nodule diameter, especially in the explant, predicted recurrence after LT independently of the number of nodules. New proposals for increasing the diameter of the largest nodule as a selection criteria for LT do not agree with our data, which on the contrary indicate the optimal nodule diameter should be 35 mm or less.

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