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Keywords:

  • hepatoblastoma;
  • children;
  • liver transplantation;
  • indications;
  • contraindications

Abstract:  In the past 20 yr, a dramatic improvement has been achieved in the outcome of children with hepatoblastoma by combining cisplatin based chemotherapy and surgery. Treatment of patients in the USA is an exception to the rule that all patients should receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy. It is paramount that surgical resection be complete, both macro- and microscopically. Complete tumor resection can be achieved after chemotherapy with a partial hepatectomy when the intrahepatic extent is limited to 1–3 sectors. In multifocal (and solitary) hepatoblastomas invading all four liver sectors, and in centrally located tumors with close proximity to the major veins, the SIOPEL-1 study and an extensive review of the world experience have shown that primary transplantation provides high, long term, disease-free survival rate in the range of 80%. In contrast, the results of rescue transplants for incomplete tumor resection or disease recurrence after partial hepatectomy are disappointing (in the range of 30%). Hazardous attempts at partial hepatectomy in children with extensive hepatoblastoma should be discouraged. Guidelines are provided for early referral of children with extended hepatoblastoma to a transplant surgeon. There is a trend for a better patient survival after living related liver transplantation. Patients who will become candidates to liver transplantation should be treated with chemotherapy following the same protocols as for children undergoing a partial hepatectomy. There is a concern about cumulative nephrotoxicity of calcineurin inhibitors and chemotherapeutic drugs. Recent data suggest that these patients tolerate lower Tacrolimus trough blood levels than those transplanted for non-malignant conditions, without increasing the risk of acute rejection. Due to the rarity of the disease, these children should be treated in specialized centers.