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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Jun;17 Suppl 2:145-50.

Review article: liver transplantation for HCC. Treatment options on the waiting list.

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1
Division of Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology and Division of General and Transplantation Surgery, University of Bologna, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, Bologna, Italy. bolondi@med.unibo.it

Abstract

The most widely adopted criteria to admit and maintain patients with HCC and cirrhosis in the waiting list for liver transplantation are the Milano criteria, consisting in the presence of a single tumour <or=5 cm in diameter or up to three tumours, none exceeding 3 cm in diameter. Since the average time to transplantation has become longer than 10-12 months in most European and American Centers, the exclusion from the list during the waiting period due to increase of the neoplasm over the established criteria is not uncommon at present. It is mandatory, therefore, to seek an effective therapeutic strategy for patients with HCC waiting for transplantation. Surgical resection and eventual subsequent salvage transplantation seems a cost-effective strategy in resectable HCC. In unresectable neoplasms both transarterial chemoembolization and percutaneous ablation techniques are currently used and one or the other are chosen according to individual applicability, limitations and specific risks. However, although positive trends were reported, no definitive evidence has been produced so far about their efficacy in increasing patient's survival and decreasing tumour recurrence rates after transplantation. Adult-to-adult living donor liver transplantation is one possible way to shorten the waiting list, but this strategy involves important ethical implications. At present it appears justified to take it into consideration only if the waiting time for cadaveric OLT is expected to exceed 7 months. A more general and definitive attempt to overcome problems related to long waiting times for patients with HCC and relatively preserved hepatic function has been introduced in the USA very recently and consists in prioritizing patients with HCC. However, the overall efficacy of this approach will be established only in some years.

PMID:
12786626
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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