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Liver Transpl. 2008 Jul;14(7):956-65. doi: 10.1002/lt.21449.

Identifying risk for recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma after liver transplantation: implications for surveillance studies and new adjuvant therapies.

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  • 1Division of Transplant Surgery, Department of General Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.


The recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major cause of mortality for patients transplanted with HCC. There currently exists no standard method for identifying those patients with a high risk for recurrence. Identification of factors leading to recurrence is necessary to develop an efficient surveillance protocol and address new potential adjuvant therapies. We conducted a retrospective review of 834 consecutive liver transplants from 1/1/1996 to 12/31/2005 (mean follow-up 1303 +/- 1069 days) at one institution and 352 consecutive transplants from 1/2/2002 to 12/31/2005 (mean follow-up 836 +/- 402 days) at a second institution. The test cohort comprised patients identified with HCC in their explanted livers from 1/1/2001 to 12/31/2005 at the first institution. Explant pathology and donor and recipient characteristics were reviewed to determine factors associated with HCC recurrence. These predictors were validated in the remaining liver transplant recipients. The test cohort had 116 patients with findings of HCC in their explanted livers. Twelve patients developed recurrent HCC. Stepwise logistic regression identified 4 independent significant explant factors predictive of recurrence. Size of one tumor (>4.5 cm), macroinvasion, and bilobar tumor were positive predictors of recurrence, whereas the presence of only well-differentiated HCC was a negative predictor. Designating each significant factor with points in relation to its odds ratio, a Predicting Cancer Recurrence Score (PCRS) with results ranging from -3 to 6 was developed that accurately determined risk of recurrence. These findings were then applied to the two validation cohorts, which confirmed the high predictive value of this model. In conclusion, patients transplanted for HCC with a PCRS of < or =0 have a low risk of recurrence. Patients with a PCRS of 1 or 2 have a moderate risk of recurrence, and those with a PCRS of > or =3 have a high risk for recurrence.

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