To report our experience with orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) for highly selected patients with early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We retrospectively analyzed the demographic, clinical, pathologic, and survival data on 21 patients with HCC who underwent OLT at the Mayo Clinic between 1985 and 1993. The 21 patients were categorized into three groups: (1) those with incidental HCC (no evidence of HCC preoperatively), (2) those with a unicentric hepatic lesion without vascular invasion, and (3) those with an increased serum α-fetoprotein (AFP) concentration but no detectable mass lesion in the liver. For the seven patients with incidental HCC, the 2-year disease-free survival was 68.5%. For the eight patients with a mass lesion, the 2-year disease-free survival was only 50%. Operative staging revealed more advanced stage disease than had been found on preoperative assessment in five of these eight patients. For the six patients with an increased serum AFP value but no mass lesion, the 2-year disease-free survival was 80%. Tumor recurrence was the major cause of all deaths in this series. Disease-free survival for patients with radiographic early-stage HCC was suboptimal because of understaging of the disease preoperatively. In contrast, our initial experience with OLT for patients with an increased serum AFP value in the absence of a mass lesion in the liver was favorable.
- hepatocellular carcinoma
- orthotopic liver transplantation
- staging based on tumor, nodes, and metastatic involvement
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