Background. Liver transplantation (LTx) for alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) is an accepted modality of treatment and is one of the most common indications for LTx in the United States. The present report examines the long-term patient survival, graft survival, rates of recidivism, and development of de novo cancers in this group, and compares these results with a contemporaneous group of patients who were transplanted for non-ALD indications. Methods. Between August 1989 and December 1992, 185 adults received LTx for ALD (group I). During the same time interval, 649 adults received LTx for non-ALD (group II). The mean follow-up time was 94±10.7 months for group I vs. 92±11 months for group II. Kaplan-Meier survival estimates and the incidence of cancers using Surveillance Epidemiologic End Result data were compared in both groups. Results. At 5 years after orthotopic LTx, the overall patient survival and graft survival for group I were 72.0% and 66.5% vs. 66.5% and 60.3% for group II, respectively. After 5 years, the patient survival and graft survival for the alcoholic group were significantly lower (P=0.001) compared to the non-alcoholic group. The rate of de novo oropharyngeal cancer and lung cancer was 25.5 times and 3.7 times higher, respectively, in ALD group compared with the general population matched for age, sex, and length of follow-up (P=0.001), whereas this was not higher in the non-ALD group. Prior pretransplant length of sobriety and alcohol rehabilitation was not associated with the rate of post-LTx rate of recidivism, which was 20%. Out of 79 deaths in group I, only 1 was attributed to recidivism and 3 to noncompliance with recidivism. The other deaths occurred from de novo cancer (n=13), posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (n=5), age-related complications (n=23), and other infection or miscellaneous causes (n=34). Conclusions. Patient and graft survival past 5 years after orthotopic LTx is significantly lower for ALD for a variety of reasons (P=0.001). The rate of upper airway malignances was significantly higher in ALD patients than for non-ALD post-LTx patients and the general public. Graft loss/death related to recidivism or chronic rejection was extremely low. More attention is needed for early diagnosis of de novo cancer and prevention of cardiorespiratory and cerebrovascular complications.
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