Liver transplantation for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma in normal livers

J Hepatol. 2012 Aug;57(2):297-305. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2012.03.022. Epub 2012 Apr 18.


Background & aims: The role of liver transplantation in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma in livers without fibrosis/cirrhosis (NC-HCC) is unclear. We aimed to determine selection criteria for liver transplantation in patients with NC-HCC.

Methods: Using the European Liver Transplant Registry, we identified 105 patients who underwent liver transplantation for unresectable NC-HCC. Detailed information about patient, tumor characteristics, and survival was obtained from the transplant centers. Variables associated with survival were identified using univariate and multivariate statistical analyses.

Results: Liver transplantation was primary treatment in 62 patients and rescue therapy for intrahepatic recurrences after liver resection in 43. Median number of tumors was 3 (range 1-7) and median tumor size 8 cm (range 0.5-30). One- and 5-year overall and tumor-free survival rates were 84% and 49% and 76% and 43%, respectively. Macrovascular invasion (HR 2.55, 95% CI 1.34 to 4.86), lymph node involvement (HR 2.60, 95% CI 1.28 to 5.28), and time interval between liver resection and transplantation < 12 months (HR 2.12, 95% CI 0.96 to 4.67) were independently associated with survival. Five-year survival in patients without macrovascular invasion or lymph node involvement was 59% (95% CI 47-70%). Tumor size was not associated with survival.

Conclusions: This is the largest reported series of patients transplanted for NC-HCC. Selection of patients without macrovascular invasion or lymph node involvement, or patients ≥ 12months after previous liver resection, can result in 5-year survival rates of 59%. In contrast to HCC in cirrhosis, tumor size is not a predictor of post-transplant survival in NC-HCC.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / surgery*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Survival Rate