Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Complete necrosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) lesions has occasionally been found by explant pathology after pretransplant neoadjuvant treatment. This study sought to investigate the long-term prognostic effect of loss of tumor viability after HCC treatment in living donor liver transplant (LDLT) recipients.
We reviewed retrospectively the 5-year records of 37 patients who demonstrated nonviable HCC on explant pathology.
The most common primary disease was hepatitis-B-virus-associated liver cirrhosis (n = 34). Single explant tumors were found in 29 patients; the mean maximal tumor size was 2.1 ± 0.9 cm (range: 0.8-4.0). No patients showed microvascular invasion. The median level of alpha-fetoprotein was 12 ng/mL (range: 1-1160). The 1 patient who showed a recurrence at 20 months remains alive more than 6 years after adrenalectomy and repeated pulmonary metastasectomy. The 5-year HCC recurrence rate was thus 2.1%. There were 2 late mortalities, each due to graft failure and recurrent gastric cancer. The overall patient survival rate was 97.3% at 5 and 92.7% at 10 years.
The results of this study revealed that the loss of tumor viability induced by pretransplant neoadjuvant treatment definitely decreased the risk of post-transplant HCC recurrence. Therefore, patients with nonviable HCC can be regarded as members of a superselect group with minimal risk for HCC recurrence, and may be exempted from routine HCC screening.