Outcomes After Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy as a Bridging Modality to Liver Transplantation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Adv Radiat Oncol. 2020 Sep 14;6(1):100559. doi: 10.1016/j.adro.2020.08.016. eCollection 2021 Jan-Feb.


Purpose: For patients with hepatocellular carcinoma awaiting liver transplantation (LT), stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) has emerged as a bridging treatment to ensure patients maintain priority status and eligibility per Milan criteria. In this study, we aimed to determine the efficacy and safety of SBRT in such situations.

Methods and materials: A retrospective analysis was conducted of the outcomes of 27 patients treated with SBRT who were listed for LT at 1 institution. Among these, 20 patients with 26 tumors went on to LT and were the focus of this study. Operative reports and postoperative charts were evaluated for potential radiation-related complications. The explant pathology findings were correlated with equivalent dose in 2 Gy fractions and tumor size.

Results: Median pretreatment tumor size was 3.05 cm. Median total dose of radiation was 50 Gy delivered in 5 fractions. Pathologic complete response (pCR) was achieved in 16 tumors (62%). Median interval from end of SBRT to transplant was 287 days. Of the 21 tumors imaged before transplant, 16 or 76% demonstrated a clinical complete response based on modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors criteria. There was no significant correlation between pCR rate and increasing tumor size (odds ratio [OR], 0.95; 95% confidence interval, 0.595-1.53) or pCR rate and equivalent dose in 2 Gy fractions (OR, 1.03; 95% confidence interval, 0.984-1.07.) No patients experienced radiation-related operative or postoperative complications. Of the 27 patients who were listed for transplant, the dropout rate was 22%. Two of the 5 patients with Child-Pugh score 10 died of liver failure.

Conclusions: These data demonstrate that SBRT as a bridging modality is a feasible option, with a pCR rate comparable to that of other bridging modalities and no additional radiation-related operative or postoperative complications. There was no dose dependence nor size dependence for pCR rate, which may indicate that for the tumor sizes in this study, the radiation doses delivered were sufficiently high.