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Transpl Int. 2013 Feb;26(2):109-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-2277.2012.01562.x. Epub 2012 Sep 21.

Recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma after liver transplantation - an emerging clinical challenge.

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Medizinische Klinik 1, Klinikum der Johann-Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  


In western countries, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major reason for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) with estimated recurrence rates between 15% and 20%. This selective literature review addresses follow-up care after OLT in HCC and current treatment options. Recurrence prediction is based on pathological tumor stage, vascular invasion, serum alfafetoprotein levels, and histological differentiation, but further advances are expected by molecular profiling techniques. Lower levels of immunosuppressive agents are associated with a lower risk for HCC recurrence. Retrospective studies indicate that mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors as immunosuppression reduce the risk of HCC recurrence. However, prospective studies supporting this potential advantage of mTOR inhibitors are still lacking, and higher rejection rates were reported for sirolimus after OLT in HCC. Prognosis is poor in recurrent HCC, a longer interval between OLT and recurrence and feasibility of surgical resection are associated with improved survival. Systemic treatment with sorafenib is the current standard of care in patients with advanced-stage HCC not suitable for locoregional therapy. After OLT, combination of an mTOR inhibitor with sorafenib is feasible and frequently used in clinical practice. As safety and efficacy data are still limited, close clinical monitoring is mandatory.

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