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Am J Gastroenterol. 1995 Jan;90(1):29-34.

Clinical course and survival after liver transplantation for hepatitis B virus infection complicated by hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Institute of Liver Studies, King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, United Kingdom.



The outcome after liver transplantation for HBsAg-positive liver disease complicated by hepatocellular carcinoma is not clearly defined, and in the present study we analyzed the clinical course in 39 patients transplanted for hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related liver disease (group 1) compared with 16 patients with chronic HBV and hepatocellular carcinoma (group 2) and 52 patients with primary hepatocellular carcinoma seronegative for HBsAg (group 3).


Despite similar pretransplant viral serology, HBV recurred more often in patients with tumor (group 2) than in nontumor cases (group 1), with 1-yr actuarial cumulative reinfection rates of 85.4% versus 65.0%, respectively (p < 0.05). In group 2 cases, we observed a more aggressive pattern of HBV-related graft injury with a higher frequency of graft loss (56.3% vs. 12.8%, p < 0.001). Long-term outcome was worse in the group 2 cases, with 5-yr actuarial survival rates of 16.7% compared with 73.2% and 28.2% for groups 1 and 3, respectively. In group 2, recurrence of HBV in the graft, rather than tumor recurrence, was the principal cause of the high mortality observed (56.2% vs. 12.5%), which, in some cases, may have been potentiated by adjuvant chemotherapy.


The poor outcome of patients transplanted for HBsAg-positive cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma is due to HBV reinfection of the graft, rather than tumor recurrence. Antiviral agents in association with hepatitis B immunoglobulin would be the most promising approach to improving survival in this patient population.

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