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Abstract

Candidates with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) within the Milan criteria (MC) receive standardized Model for End-Stage LIver Disease (MELD) exception points because of the projected risk of tumor expansion beyond the MC. Exception points at listing are meant to be equivalent to a 15% rusj if 90-day mortality, with additional points granted every 3 months, equivalent to a 10% increased morality risk. We analyzed the United Network for Organ Sharing database (January 1, 2005 to May 31, 2009) to compare the 90-day waitlist outcomes of HCC candidates and non-HCC candidates with similar MELD scores. Two hundred fifty-nine HCC candidates (4.1%) who were initially listed with 22 MELD exception points were removed because of death or clinical deterioration within 90 days of listing, whereas 283 non-HCC candidates (11.0%) with initial laboratory MELD scores of 21 to 23 were removed. Ninety-three HCC candidates (4.6%) with 25 exception points (after 3-6 months of waiting) were removed because of death or clinical deterioration within 90 days, whereas 805 non-HCC candidates (17.3%) with laboratory MELD scores of 24 to 26 were removed. Twenty HCC candidates (3.0%) with 28 exception points (after 6-9 months of waiting) were removed for death or clinical deterioration within 90 days, whereas 646 non-HCC candidates (23.6%) with laboratory MELD scores of 27 to 29 were removed. In multivariate logistic regression models, HCC candidates had significantly lower 90-day odds of waitlist removal for death or clinical deterioration (P < 0.001). Over time, the risk of waitlist removal for death or clinical deterioration was unchanged for HCC candidates (P = 0.17), whereas it increased significantly for non-HCC candidates. The current allotment of HCC exception points should be re-evaluated because of the stable risk of waitlist dropout for these candidates. Liver Transpl 18:434–443, 2012. © 2012 AASLD.