Adjuvant chemotherapy for prevention of recurrence of invasive hepatocellular carcinoma after orthotopic liver transplantation

Transplant Proc. 2006 Oct;38(8):2495-8. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2006.08.053.


Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is the best treatment for nonresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but tumor recurrence reduces long-term and medium-term survival. The effectiveness of adjuvant chemotherapy to prevent tumor recurrence has not been fully established.

Methods: Three hundred eighty-seven consecutive patients, including 43 with HCC superimposed on liver cirrhosis, underwent OLT. Twelve patients with one or more prognostic criteria for HCC recurrence were entered into a prospective prophylaxis protocol with monthly cycles of cisplatin (60 mg/m(2)) and adriamycin (30 mg/m(2)), beginning the fourth week post-OLT for a maximum of seven sessions.

Results: The 5-year survival of the non-HCC patients was 65.7% and that of the HCC patients was 60.46% (P = NS). Chemotherapy was reasonably well tolerated, but the 9 patients with hepatitis C- or B-associated cirrhosis showed viral and histological recurrence of the primary disease. A high proportion of patients (7 of 12) developed tumor recurrence during the first year after OLT. Six of these patients died, all but one due to HCC relapse. Five patients remain healthy and tumor free at 58 to 130 months. Post-OLT adjuvant chemotherapy does not avoid tumor recurrence and its fatal consequences but may contribute to prolonged tumor-free survival among a significant proportion of patients with high-risk HCC. However, the uncertain implications on viral recurrence and the lack of control groups do not allow post-OLT chemotherapy to be recommended outside controlled clinical trials, which are clearly warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors