Oncologic indications of liver transplantation and deceased donor liver allocation in the United States

Curr Opin Organ Transplant. 2021 Apr 1;26(2):168-175. doi: 10.1097/MOT.0000000000000866.


Purpose of review: Liver transplantation is a standard therapy for certain liver cancers. The majority of liver transplantation in the United States is through deceased donor liver transplantation (DDLT). A significant disparity between the demand of livers and patients awaiting liver transplantation still remains, relying on United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to make policies to determine priority amongst recipients, including for patients with liver cancer. We review the scope of liver transplantation in patients with liver cancer with a focus on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA), and unresectable colorectal liver metastases (CRLM) with respect to current liver allocation policy.

Recent findings: Recently, liver allocation changed in the United States. Under the current allocation policy, select patients with HCC and hilar CCA (hCCA) receive priority with an exception score of median MELD score at transplant (MMAT)-3. There is scope for other liver cancers, such as iCCA and CRLM to be considered, as reasonable outcomes have been achieved in these patients outside of the United States through DDLT and living donor liver transplantation (LDLT).

Summary: With the growing experience of liver transplantation for nonconventional oncologic indications, the current policy for prioritization of liver cancer within deceased donor liver allocation may need to be re-evaluated.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02775162 NCT04194437 NCT04186221.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Living Donors
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement*
  • United States

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02775162
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04194437
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04186221