Liver transplantation for metastatic neuroendocrine carcinoma: an analysis of 103 patients

Transplantation. 1998 Nov 27;66(10):1307-12. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199811270-00007.


Background: Patients with neuroendocrine carcinoma often present with liver metastases not amenable to hepatic resection. For them, liver transplantation has been considered a viable treatment option, especially if hormonal symptoms and pain cannot be controlled medically. Still, little is known regarding potential prognostic factors and long-term survival after liver transplantation for neuroendocrine tumors.

Methods: A search of English, French, and German literature identified patients with liver transplantation for extensive metastases from neuroendocrine carcinoma for whom follow-up data were available.

Results: Overall, 2-year and 5-year survival for all 103 patients was 60% and 47%, respectively, but recurrence-free 5-year survival did not exceed 24%. Univariate analysis identified age less than 50 years, primary tumor location in lung or bowel, and pretransplant somatostatin therapy as favorable prognostic factors, whereas extended operations combining liver transplantation with upper abdominal exenteration or Whipple's procedure were associated with poor prognosis. Multivariate analysis identified age greater than 50 years (P<0.03) and transplantation combined with upper abdominal exenteration or Whipple's operation (P<0.001) as adverse prognostic factors.

Conclusions: Liver transplantation may be justified in selected patients to provide immediate relief of otherwise intractable pain or hormone-related symptoms. Transplantation with curative intent appears worthwhile in young patients with only hepatic disease. In older patients with extrahepatic disease requiring extended operations, long-term results are discouraging, and the small benefit achieved by liver transplantation must be weighed against medical treatment options and the natural course of often slowly progressing disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / surgery*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Liver Neoplasms / surgery
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology*