Liver targeted therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma prior to transplant: contemporary management strategies

Glob Surg. 2018 Apr;4(1):10.15761/GOS.1000171. doi: 10.15761/GOS.1000171. Epub 2018 Feb 15.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive neoplastic disease that has been rapidly increasing in incidence. It usually occurs in the background of liver disease, and cirrhosis. Definitive therapy requires surgical resection. However, in majority of cases surgical resection is not tolerated, especially in the presence of portal hypertension and cirrhosis. Orthotopic liver transplant (OLT) in well selected candidates has been accepted as a viable option. Due to a relative scarcity of donors compared to the number of listed recipients, long waiting times are anticipated. To prevent patients with HCC from dropping out from the transplant list due to progression of their disease, most centers utilize loco-regional therapies. These loco-regional therapies(LRT) include minimally invasive treatments like percutaneous thermal ablation, trans-arterial chemoembolization, trans-arterial radio-embolization or a combination thereof. The type of therapy or combination used is determined by the size and location of the HCC and Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) classification. The data regarding the efficacy of LRT in reducing post-transplant recurrence or disease-free survival is limited. This article reviews the available therapies, their strengths, limitations, and current use in the management of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma awaiting transplant.

Keywords: Loco-regional therapy; hepatocellular carcinoma; orthotopic liver transplant.