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Medical Science Monitor Basic Research


eISSN: 2329-0358

Liver Transplantation for High Risk Hepatocellular Carcinoma After Liver Resection: A Sequential or Salvage Approach?

Chih-Che Lin, Ahmed M. Elsarawy, Wei-Feng Li, Ting-Lung Lin, Chee-Chien Yong, Shih-Ho Wang, Chih-Chi Wang, Fang-Ying Kuo, Yu-Fan Cheng, Chao-Long Chen

Liver Transplantation Center and Department of Surgery, Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Ann Transplant 2017; 22:602-610

DOI: 10.12659/AOT.905779

Available online:

Published: 2017-10-10


BACKGROUND: Liver transplantation (LT) is the best radical treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Salvage liver transplantation (SalvLT) provides good outcomes for recurrent HCC cases after initial curative liver resection (LR). However, the salvage strategy is not feasible in all situations due to aggressive recurrences. Recently, sequential liver transplantation (SeqLT) was proposed for cases that show adverse pathological features after LR, thus LT is performed pre-emptively before recurrence. In this report, we compared the outcomes of SalvLT and SeqLT for surgical treatment of HCC.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: One hundred and ten cases underwent LR for HCC, then were subjected to either SalvLT (n=91) or SeqLT (n=19), from January 2001 to December 2015. For cases that underwent several LR before LT, we collected the data of the last LR before transplantation. A comparison was made according to pre- and post-transplant clinical and pathological variables. Survival analysis and comparison between both pathways are provided.
RESULTS: The median interval (months) between LR and LT for the SeqLT group and the SalvLT group were 9.6 and 22.2, respectively. (p=0.01). The LR histopathological features were similar in both groups. In the SalvLT group, the histopathological comparison between the criteria of last LR and the criteria of liver explants revealed that 14 cases advanced from stage I to stage II, one cases from stage I to stage IIIa, one case from stage I to stage IIIb, one case from stage I to stage IIIc, three cases from stage II to stage IIIb and one case from stage II to stage IIIc. The overall rate of pathological upstaging in the SalvLT group was 27%. The incidence of post-transplant HCC recurrence was 5% (1/19) and 11% (10/91) for the SeqLT and SalvLT groups, respectively (p=0.4). The incidence of post-LT in-hospital mortality was 0% among the SeqLT group and 2% (2/91) among the SalvLT group. The estimated rates of five-year overall survival and cancer specific survival for the SeqLT group versus the SalvLT group were (92.3% versus 87.6%; p=0.4) and (92.3% versus 91.9%; p=0.7), respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: The SeqLT approach might be associated with low incidence of cancer recurrence, better overall survival, and less operative mortality. Another possible benefit is the avoidance of aggressive non-transplantable HCC recurrences. More studies and/or randomization are required for highre evidence conclusions.

Keywords: Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, Liver Transplantation, Salvage Therapy