Hypothesis: Liver transplantation (LT) has become the optimal treatment for stages I and II hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Based on our 20-year experience, changes in staging, techniques, and patient selection have improved survival over the past 20 years. Herein, we determine if pre-LT treatment for HCC alters the long-term outcomes in patients with HCC. Design: Outcomes study. Setting: Tertiary referral center. Patients: We retrospectively reviewed prospectively collected data in a cohort of 92 patients who underwent LT for HCC between 1983 and 2003. Main Outcome Measures: Patient demographics, tumor stage in the explant liver, patient survival, and tumor recurrence data were analyzed. Results: The average follow-up was 1052 (range, 0-6491) days. The average tumor size was 3.6 cm; 40% of tumors were multifocal and 60% unifocal. Of the 92 patients, 26% were classified as stage I; 42%, stage II; 24%, stage III; and 8%, stage IV. The overall 5-year survival rate was 50%, the 10-year survival rate was 32%, and the 15-year survival rate was 27%. Improvements in staging in the last 5 years reduced the number of patients with stages III and IV HCC from 39% to 19% and increased the 5-year survival rate to 69%. Tumor recurrence was relatively rare (13%); however, recurrence resulted in a poor prognosis (75% mortality rate; P = .02). The average time to recurrence was 458 (range, 179-1195) days. Conclusions: Liver transplantation for HCC results in excellent long-term survival for patients with stages 1 and II HCC, with relatively few patients dying from tumor recurrence. Improvements in preoperative staging have resulted in increased 5-year survival rates. Further refinements in pre-LT staging may increase the effectiveness of LT for HCC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes