Progression of Hepatocellular Carcinoma Before Liver Transplantation: Dropout or Liver Transplantation?

A. Vitale, P. Boccagni, A. Brolese, D. Neri, N. Srsen, G. Zanus, D. Pagano, A. Pauletto, P. Bonsignore, M. Scopelliti, F. E. D'Amico, G. Ometto, M. Polacco, P. Burra, M. Gambato, P. Feltracco, A. Romano, U. Cillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Tumor progression before liver transplantation (OLT) is the main cause of dropout from the waiting list (WL) of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to show a correlation between adopted dropout criteria and dropout/intention-to-treat survival rates of WL HCC patients. Methods: The study period was 2000 to 2007. The dropout criteria were macroscopic vascular invasion, metastases, or a poorly differentiated tumor. Adult patients with benign chronic liver disease enlisted for primary OLT in the same period represented the control group. Results: Dropout probability of study (n = 128) versus control group (n = 377) subjects was similar: namely, 12% at 1 year in both groups (P = NS). Intention-to-treat survival curve of the HCC group overlapped that of the benign group (5-year survival rates were 73% and 71%, respectively; P = NS). At the time of listing, 103 study group patients were within the Milan criteria (MC): among these patients, 29 (28%) showed tumor progression beyond MC before OLT. Simulating the dropout of these 29 patients at the time of diagnosis of tumor progression, we compared the dropout probability of the 103 patients within MC with that of the control group. As a result, the 1- and 2-year dropout rates became 37% and 53%, respectively, in the study group, which were significantly higher than those in the controls (P <.01). Conclusion: HCC patients on the WL showed a significantly greater dropout rate than subjects with benign cirrhosis when too restrictive radiologic dropout criteria were used. The adoption of criteria more related to biological aggressiveness of a tumor decreased the dropout risk for HCC patients without impairing their intention-to-treat survival rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1264-1267
Number of pages4
JournalTransplantation Proceedings
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Transplantation
  • Medicine(all)


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