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Clinical Features and Surveillance of Very Late Hepatocellular Carcinoma Recurrence After Liver Transplantation

Abdulwahab A. Alshahrani, Su-Min Ha, Shin Hwang, Chul-Soo Ahn, Ki-Hun Kim, Deok-Bog Moon, Tae-Yong Ha, Gi-Won Song, Dong-Hwan Jung, Gil-Chun Park, Hwi-Dong Cho, Jae Hyun Kwon, Sang-Hyun Kang, Sung-Gyu Lee

(Division of Hepatobiliary Surgery and Liver Transplantation, Department of Surgery, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea)

Ann Transplant 2018; 23:659-665

DOI: 10.12659/AOT.910598

BACKGROUND: This study aimed to assess patterns of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) recurrence after liver transplantation (LT) and to establish long-term surveillance protocols for late HCC recurrence.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: The 232 LT recipients experiencing subsequent HCC recurrence were categorized as Group 1, early recurrence (within 1 year of LT; n=117); Group 2, late recurrence (occurring in years 2–5; n=93); and Group 3, very late recurrence (after year 5; n=22).
RESULTS: Recurrence was detected by only elevated tumor marker levels in 11.1%, 30.1%, and 45.5% of patients in Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively (p<0.001). The proportion of intrahepatic and extrahepatic metastases was similar in all 3 groups. Common sites of extrahepatic metastasis were the lung and bone; these were also similar across the 3 groups. Overall post-recurrence patient survival rates were 60.2% at 1 year, 28.2% at 3 years, 20.5% at 5 years, and 7.0% at 10 years. Median post-recurrence survival periods were 10.2, 23.8, and 37.0 months in Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: While the pattern of HCC recurrence was similar regardless of time of recurrence, post-recurrence survival was significantly longer in patients with later recurrence. Long-term surveillance for HCC recurrence beyond 5 years after LT is recommended.

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