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Liver Transpl. 2001 Oct;7(10):877-83.

Selection criteria for liver transplantation in early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma with cirrhosis: results of a multicenter study.

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Ciudad Sanitaria y Universitaria (CSU) Bellvitge, Barcelona, Spain.


Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) offers the only chance to eliminate both tumor and liver disease in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cirrhosis. However, tumor progression while on the waiting list and recurrence after OLT are frequent. We undertook a large multicenter study to assess survival and related factors of recurrence after OLT. This retrospective study analyses data from 307 consecutive patients with HCC and cirrhosis treated with OLT between 1990 and 1997 in eight centers in Spain. OLT was indicated only for small (<5 cm) localized tumors. Five-year rates after OLT were 63% for survival, 58% for disease-free survival, and 21% for recurrence. Tumor diameter larger than 5 cm was associated with other tumor characteristics that were significant indicators of poor outcome (absence of capsule, three or more nodules, bilobularity, satellite nodules, and vascular invasion). However, in multivariate analysis, alpha fetoprotein (AFP) levels greater than 300 ng/mL (P = .04; P = .02) and macroscopic vascular invasion (P = .01; P = .0001) were the only factors independently associated with mortality and recurrence, respectively. OLT is indicated in patients with small HCCs who have low AFP levels and no macroscopic vascular invasion or extrahepatic disease. By increasing our ability for preoperative tumor imaging, we will achieve better selection of patients with HCC before OLT.

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