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Transplantation. 2008 Sep 15;86(5):641-6. doi: 10.1097/TP.0b013e3181814de2.

The timing of liver transplantation after primary hepatectomy for hepatocellular carcinoma: a special reference to recurrence pattern and Milan criteria.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, The University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan.



Hepatic resection (HR) is commonly applied as first-line treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) even in the era of liver transplantation (LT).


Outcomes and detailed recurrence pattern of 80 patients, who underwent curative HR for HCC were examined referring to Milan criteria.


(I) After HR for HCCs exceeding Milan criteria (n=41), recurrence within the criteria was observed in 13 patients (group-A) and recurrence not-meeting the criteria was observed in 22 patients (group-B). group-A showed better 3-year recurrence-free survival rate than group-B (85.7% vs. 23.9%, P<0.05). Tumor size more than or equal to 6 cm was identified as the significant factor for having recurrence as in group-A pattern (P<0.05). Among the patients in group-A, re-recurrence after treating recurrent HCC was observed in eight patients (61.5%) with increased rate of extra-Milan criteria recurrence at 12 months from the initial recurrence. (II) After HR for HCCs meeting Milan criteria (n=39), recurrences within the criteria was observed in 15 patients (group-C) and recurrence not-meeting the criteria was observed in five patients (group-D). The 3-year recurrence-free survival rate was 62.8% in group-C and 40.0% in group-D (P<0.05). Increased rate of extra-Milan re-recurrence was observed later than 12 months from the recurrence in group-C.


For HCCs not meeting Milan criteria, secondary LT after primary HR could be applied for a proportion of cases with less aggressiveness. For those meeting Milan criteria, primary LT should be the first therapeutic option. However, secondary LT could be offered for those with re-recurrence within criteria after primary HR.

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