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Transpl Int. 2019 Feb;32(2):163-172. doi: 10.1111/tri.13337. Epub 2018 Sep 10.

Downstaging prior to liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma: advisable but at the price of an increased risk of cancer recurrence - a retrospective study.

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Divisions of Transplant and Abdominal Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Geneva Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.
Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Center, University of Geneva Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.
Division of Transplantation, Department of Surgery, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada.


The use of downstaging prior to liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) still needs refinement. This study included patients with HCC listed for transplantation according to the Total Tumour Volume (TTV) ≤115 cm3 and alpha fetoprotein (AFP) ≤400 ng/ml criteria, with and without previous downstaging. Overall, 455 patients were listed, and 286 transplanted. Post-transplant follow-up was 38.5 ± 1.7 months. Patients downstaged to TTV115/AFP400 (n = 29) demonstrated similar disease-free survivals (DFS, 74% vs. 80% at 5 years, P = 0.949), but a trend to more recurrences (14% vs. 5.8%, P = 0.10) than those always within TTV115/AFP400 (n = 257). Similarly, patients downstaged to Milan criteria (n = 80) demonstrated similar DFS (76% vs. 86% at 5 years, P = 0.258), but more recurrences (11% vs. 1.7%, P = 0.001) than those always within Milan (n = 177). Among patients downstaged to Milan, those originally beyond TTV115/AFP400 (n = 27) had similar outcomes as those originally beyond Milan, but within TTV115/AFP400 (n = 53). However, the likelihood of being within Milan at transplant was lower for patients with more advanced original HCCs (P < 0.0001). Overall, despite an expected increase in post-transplant HCC recurrence, similar survivals can be achieved with and without downstaging, using the TTV115/AFP400 transplantation criteria, and including patients with advanced original HCCs. Downstaging should continue to be performed.


cancer; downstaging; liver clinical; outcome

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