Time of Dropout From the Liver Transplant List in Patients With Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Clinical Behavior According to Tumor Characteristics and Severity of Liver Disease

Transplant Proc. 2016 Sep;48(7):2319-2322. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2016.06.013.


Background: Prolonged time on the waiting list affects post-transplant survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, it is not yet known which patients will be at higher risk for early dropout from the list. We investigate specific risk factors for early waiting list dropout in patients with HCC.

Methods: This was a single-center, intention-to-treat analysis of adults with HCC, within the Milan criteria, from July 2006 through September 2013. Patients were divided into groups according to waiting list time. The main end point was dropout from the list.

Results: The dropout rates of the study cohort at 3, 6, and 12-months were 6.4%, 12.4%, and 17.7%, respectively. Patients who dropped out from the list tended to be older, with blood types A and O, and with higher Child-Pugh and Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scores. They also had larger nodules, responded poorly to trans-arterial chemo-embolization (TACE), and had a higher alpha-fetoprotein. Those with blood types B and AB appeared to be protected for dropout (odds ratio [OR] = 0.21, P = .02). Patients who responded to TACE were also protected (OR = 0.22, P < .001). When we looked into time to dropout, the only baseline characteristic that stood out was a higher MELD score (13 for those dropping out up to 90 days vs 10 for those dropping out after 180 days, P = .0025).

Conclusions: We conclude that patients who drop out early from the list are primarily driven by the severity of liver disease. Patients who had progressive HCC had a high tumor load and poor response to loco-regional therapies, dropping out from the list after 180 days of inclusion.

MeSH terms

  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / therapy*
  • Chemoembolization, Therapeutic
  • End Stage Liver Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Dropouts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Burden
  • Waiting Lists*
  • alpha-Fetoproteins


  • ABO Blood-Group System
  • alpha-Fetoproteins