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Abstract

In patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) exceeding conventional (T2) criteria for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), the feasibility and outcome following loco-regional therapy intended for tumor downstaging to meet T2 criteria for OLT are unknown. In this first prospective study on downstaging of HCC prior to OLT, the eligibility criteria for enrollment into a downstaging protocol included 1 lesion >5 cm and ≤8 cm, 2 or 3 lesions at least 1 >3 cm but ≤5 cm with total tumor diameter of ≤8 cm, or 4 or 5 nodules all ≤3 cm with total tumor diameter ≤8 cm. Patients were eligible for living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT) if tumors were downstaged to within proposed University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) criteria.13 A minimum follow-up period of 3 months after downstaging was required before cadaveric OLT or LDLT, with imaging studies meeting criteria for successful downstaging. Among the 30 patients enrolled, 21 (70%) met criteria for successful downstaging, including 16 (53%) who had subsequently received OLT (2 with LDLT), and 9 patients (30%) were classified as treatment failures. In the explant of 16 patients who underwent OLT, 7 had complete tumor necrosis, 7 met T2 criteria, but 2 exceeded T2 criteria. No HCC recurrence was observed after a median follow-up of 16 months after OLT. The Kaplan-Meier intention-to-treat survival was 89.3 and 81.8% at 1 and 2 yr, respectively. In conclusion, successful tumor downstaging can be achieved in the majority of carefully selected patients, but longer follow-up is needed to further access the risk of HCC recurrence after OLT. (Liver Transpl 2005;11:1505–1514.)