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Abstract

Very little is known about the natural history, effects of therapy, and survival after recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after liver transplantation. All adult patients undergoing liver transplant from September 19, 1988, until September 19, 2002, were reviewed. Only patients with histologically proven HCC in the explant who subsequently developed recurrence were included in further analysis. The endpoints analyzed were survival from time of transplant and survival from time of recurrence. Recipient demographics and laboratory values, technique of transplant (whole cadaver, split, or living donor), and tumor characteristics were analyzed. The time to, location of, and any medical or surgical treatment of recurrences also were considered. Of the 311 patients with HCC in the explant, 57 (18.3%) eventually were diagnosed with recurrent tumor after transplant. Median time to recurrence was 12.3. Five-year survival was significantly lower for patients with recurrence (22%) than for patients without recurrence (64%)(P < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that the size and differentiation of the original tumor, as well as the presence of bone recurrence, were independently associated with survival from transplant in patients with recurrence. When survival from the time of recurrence was analyzed, multivariate analysis showed that the absence of bone metastases, recurrence more than 12 months from transplant, and surgical treatment of the recurrence were independently associated with significantly longer survival. In conclusion, recurrence of HCC significantly shortens survival after transplant. Nonetheless, some patients with recurrence can be expected to live for a considerable period of time. Recurrent disease should be treated surgically when possible, because surgery is independently associated with longer survival. (Liver Transpl 2004;10:534–540.)