1 Liver and Multivisceral Transplant Center, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena-Policlinico, Modena, Italy. 2 Section of Pathologic Anatomy, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena-Policlinico, Modena, Italy. 3 Division of Radiology, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena-Policlinico, Modena, Italy. 4 Division of Anesthesiology, Azienda Ospedaliero-Universitaria di Modena-Policlinico, Modena, Italy. 5 Department of General & Hepato-Biliary Surgery, Liver Transplantation Service, Ghent University Hospital Medical School, Ghent, Belgium. 6 Address correspondence to: Roberto Montalti, MD, PhD, Clinica di Chirurgia dei Trapianti-Azienda Ospedaliero Universitaria- Ospedali Riuniti di Ancona, Via Conca 71, Ancona, Italy.
Prognostic factors for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) recurrence after liver transplantation (LT) are still a matter of debate. The absence of viable tumor in the native liver, due to effectiveness of pre-LT locoregional treatment or liver resection, is an intriguing prognostic factor that had never been evaluated.
Between November 2000 and December 2011, 210 LTs were performed in patients with evidence of HCC and cirrhosis.
Fifty-three (25.2%) patients did not show any evidence of active residual HCC in the native liver (Group NVH), whereas 157 (74.8%) patients showed viable HCC (Group VH). All patients in Group NVH were treated before LT with a multimodal approach combining transarterial chemoembolization, liver resection, radiofrequency ablation, percutaneous ethanol injection, or sorafenib, whereas, in Group VH, 110 of the 157 (70.1%) patients received bridging therapy (P<0.001). HCC recurrence occurred in none of the patients in Group NVH (0%) and in 25 (15.9%) patients in Group VH (P=0.003). Liver resection was the most effective treatment in obtaining absence of HCC on liver explantation. The results of multivariate analysis showed that existence of pathologic HCC findings outside of the University of California-San Francisco criteria (P=0.001; odds ratio, 4; confidence interval, 1.7-9.2) and the presence of viable HCC (P=0.003; odds ratio, 5.9; confidence interval, 1.5-17.6) were independently associated with HCC recurrence.
The histologic absence of viable HCC in the native liver after LT and morphologic criteria, due to the high effectiveness of pre-LT bridging treatments, is a highly positive prognostic factor against HCC recurrence after LT.