Liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma

Minerva Chir. 2002 Oct;57(5):575-85.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the commonest malignancies worldwide, and accounts for more than 1 million deaths annually. Identification of tumors early in the course of disease appears to be important for treatment, yet remains difficult to accomplish. Without treatment the prognosis is dismal with a median survival of 6-9 months. Partial hepatic resection is generally accepted as the treatment of choice for HCC with reported survival rates of up to 50% at 5 years. Unfortunately poor underlying liver function as well as tumor number or location preclude traditional hepatic resection in many cases. Total hepatectomy with transplantation (LT) has been advocated such cases, but the results have been variable. LT offers the advantage of radical tumor removal even in patients with multifocal disease or severe cirrhosis. Additionally, LT removes the possibility of metachronous lesions developing in the liver remnant and restores normal liver function. The critical limitation to advocating LT as primary oncotherapy in patients with HCC is the severe shortage of donor livers. Until organ availability improves, transplantation for HCC can only be offered to patients whose survival is predicted to be similar to that in patients transplanted for benign disease. This report reviews the current role and indications for liver transplantation as therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Forecasting
  • Hepatectomy
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Liver Diseases / complications
  • Liver Diseases / physiopathology
  • Liver Diseases / surgery
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Selection
  • Risk Factors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor