Treatment before liver transplantation for HCC

Ann Surg Oncol. 2008 Apr;15(4):993-1000. doi: 10.1245/s10434-007-9787-8. Epub 2008 Jan 31.


Liver transplantation (LT) which is currently an established therapy for sma1l, early stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with cirrhosis requires in most cases long waiting period. Tumor development during the waiting period may be associated with vascular invasion which is a strong factor of postoperative recurrence. Therefore, local treatment of the tumor including trans-arterial chemoembolization (TACE), percutaneous radiofrequency (RF) or partial liver resection can be used before transplantation. In the present paper we reviewed the efficacy of these treatments prior to LT. Although, TACE induced complete tumor necrosis in some patients there is no convincing arguments showing that this treatment reduces the rate of drop out before LT, nor improves the survival after LT. Although, RF can induce complete necrosis in the majority of small tumors (<2.5 cm), there is no data demonstrating that this treatment reduce the rate of drop out before LT, nor improves the survival after LT. It has been showed that both short and long term survival after LT was not compromised by previous partial liver resection of HCC. However, there is no data demonstrating that liver resection before LT, which can be used either as a bridge treatment or as a primary treatment, improves the survival after LT. The current data suggest that there is no role for pre-transplant therapy for HCC within Milano criteria transplanted within six months. On the opposite, if the waiting time is predicted to be prolonged, the risk of tumor progression and either drop-off from the list or interval dissemination with post-transplant tumor recurrence is recognized. In this setting, bridge therapy can reduce that risk but its efficacy has to be determined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Catheter Ablation* / statistics & numerical data
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic* / statistics & numerical data
  • Disease Progression
  • Hepatectomy* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Morbidity
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Preoperative Care
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Waiting Lists