The prediction of risk of recurrence and time to recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma after orthotopic liver transplantation: A pilot study



Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLTx) in the presence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been complicated by high recurrence rates. The ability to determine the risk and timing of HCC recurrence on an individual basis would greatly aid in the candidate selection process resulting in a more efficient use of donated organs and allow the individualization and better evaluation of adjuvant chemotherapy. The 214 patients who underwent OLTx in the presence of HCC were analyzed. From the 178 patients who survived more than 150 days, 71 (40%) have suffered HCC recurrence. Based on five risk factors, that is, gender, tumor number, lobar tumor distribution, tumor size, grade of vascular invasion, artificial neural network models predicting the likelihood of HCC recurrence within 1, 2, and 3 consecutive years after transplantation were developed. Based on model predictions, those combinations of risk factors that should/should not lead to recurrence were generated, allowing stratification of patients into the following three groups: 1) patients who should not suffer HCC recurrence and who should not need adjuvant therapy, 2) patients who will suffer recurrence and for whom postoperative chemotherapy significantly prolonged survival (but did not prevent recurrence), and 3) patients who may or may not suffer HCC recurrence and whose recurrence may be prevented by adjuvant chemotherapy. The outcome of OLTx for patients with HCC can be prognosticated based on a number of clinical variables. If verified through multicenter trials, these models could be made available to transplantation programs performing OLTx in the presence of HCC.