Recent reports suggest that selected patients undergoing liver transplantation for stage 1-2 hepatocellular cancer (HCC) have an excellent long-term survival and a low incidence of recurrence. In the past, over 45% of HCC patients on the United Network for Organ Sharing/Organ Procurement Transplantation Network waiting list did not receive a donor organ for up to 2 years. This resulted in not only a high mortality rate but a high rate of being removed from the waiting list because of progression of HCC to advanced stages. The introduction of the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) allocation policy has had a positive effect on HCC liver transplant candidates with the number of patients transplanted for HCC significantly increasing over the past several years. In addition, waiting time for HCC patients to receive a deceased donor has decreased significantly and the number of patients dropping out from the waiting list because of advanced stage disease has also decreased. An early assessment of the MELD allocation policy suggests that posttransplant survival for HCC patients comparing pre-MELD to post-MELD eras is similar. Using the data we have collected on the MELD allocation policy, we have already made modifications to the MELD allocation policy for HCC patients. It is hoped that through continued data collection and assessment, a consensus can be reached to further optimize the use of deceased donors in HCC recipients.
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