Introduction: Liver transplantation (LT) has been the treatment of choice for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study was designed to summarize our experience in LT for HCC patients and establish a new set of criteria for patient selection and prognosis prediction.
Materials and methods: Data of 195 patients with HCC were retrospectively analyzed and various clinical and pathological factors for survival and tumor-free survival were examined by univariate and multivariate analyses.
Results: Macrovascular invasion, preoperative serum alpha fetoprotein (AFP) level, tumor size, multifocality, histopathologic grading, distribution, and cirrhosis background were significant factors for survival and tumor-free survival by univariate analysis. Multivariate analysis identified macrovascular invasion, tumor size, preoperative AFP level, and histopathologic grading were prognostic factors independently associated with patient survival or tumor-free survival (RR=1.688-2.779, P=0.000-0.034). Based on the prognostic stratification of different risk groups of patients without macrovascular invasion, Hangzhou criteria was established, containing one of the two following items: (a) Total tumor diameter less than or equal to 8 cm; (b) total tumor diameter more than 8 cm, with histopathologic grade I or II and preoperative AFP level less than or equal to 400 ng/mL, simultaneously. The difference between survival curves of patients fulfilling Milan criteria (n=72) and patients fulfilling Hangzhou criteria (n=99) did not achieve statistical significance (5-year survival rates: 78.3% vs. 72.3%, P>0.05). Of the patients exceeding Milan criteria (n=123), those who fulfilled Hangzhou criteria (n=26) also had better prognosis than the others (n=97) (P=0.000).
Conclusion: The results of this study show a reliable and feasible candidates selection and prognostic criteria of LT in HCC patients.