Impact of neoadjuvant transarterial chemoembolization on tumor recurrence and patient survival after liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma: a retrospective analysis

Clin Transplant. 2012 Sep-Oct;26(5):764-74. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0012.2012.01609.x. Epub 2012 Mar 20.


Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) has gained wide acceptance as a bridge to liver transplantation (LT) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Aim of this analysis was to compare long-term results with and without neoadjuvant TACE and to identify subgroups, which particularly benefit from TACE. Patients with HCC transplanted at our center were retrospectively analyzed. The following were excluded to increase consistency: incidental-HCC, Child-C, living-related-LT, other HCC-specific-treatment. Of 336 patients, 177 were subject of this analysis, 71 received TACE and 106 no HCC therapy. Patients with and without TACE showed similar five-yr survival (73/67%) and recurrence rates (23/29%). Progression on the waiting list was associated with a higher recurrence rate in the TACE (50 vs.12%) and the non-TACE group (40 vs. 22%). HCC recurrence was reduced in patients inside Milan (0.053) and UCSF (0.037) criteria by neoadjuvant TACE but not outside UCSF (0.99). Also a trend towards an improved survival was seen within these criteria. Our large single center experience suggests that TACE lowers the HCC recurrence rate in patients inside the Milan and UCSF criteria. Moreover, the response to TACE is a good indicator of low recurrence rates. The effect of TACE might be more pronounced in patients with longer waiting time than in this cohort (mean, 4.6 months).

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Liver Neoplasms / therapy
  • Liver Transplantation / mortality*
  • Male
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy*
  • Neoplasm Grading
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / mortality*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate