Liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma: comparison of the proposed UCSF criteria with the Milan criteria and the Pittsburgh modified TNM criteria

Liver Transpl. 2002 Sep;8(9):765-74. doi: 10.1053/jlts.2002.34892.


We previously proposed modified staging criteria for predicting acceptable outcome after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). These were solitary tumor < or = 6.5 cm, or three or fewer nodules with the largest lesion < or = 4.5 cm and total tumor diameter < or = 8 cm, without gross vascular invasion (University of California, San Francisco [UCSF] criteria). In this study, we further evaluated the performance of the Milan criteria (solitary tumor < or = 5 cm, or three or fewer lesions none > 3 cm), the UCSF criteria, and the Pittsburgh modified tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) criteria. Pathologic HCC staging according to each set of criteria was performed in 70 patients. The difference in survival when comparing 24 patients with HCC exceeding Milan criteria versus 46 patients meeting Milan criteria did not reach statistical significance (HR, 2.0; P = .12). Using our definition for acceptable 2-year survival to be > or = 70%, the 14 patients (20%) meeting UCSF criteria but exceeding Milan criteria had a 2-year survival of 86% (95% CI, 54% to 96%). Survival for Pittsburgh stage I, II, and IIIA patients as a group was significantly better than for stages IIIB and IVA patients combined (HR, 4.2; P = .007), and similar to survival for patients meeting UCSF criteria. Advanced tumor exceeding UCSF criteria served reasonably well as a surrogate marker for poorly differentiated grade and microvascular invasion. In conclusion, our analyses suggest that UCSF criteria better predict acceptable posttransplant outcome than Milan criteria. UCSF criteria confer a different advantage over Pittsburgh criteria, which require information on microvascular invasion that is difficult to ascertain preoperatively without the attendant risk of biopsy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Survival Analysis