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Keywords:

  • chemotherapy;
  • doxorubicin;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • liver transplantation

Summary

The role of adjuvant systemic chemotherapy in liver transplantation (LT) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is controversial. Here, we report the results of a Nordic prospective, randomized, multi-centre trial of systemic low-dose doxorubicin in patients with HCC. Between February 1996 and April 2004, 46 patients were randomized to receive either neoadjuvant doxorubicin in combination with LT (chemo group; n = 19) or LT alone (control group; n = 27). In the chemo group, doxorubicin was administered intravenously, 10 mg/m2 weekly, starting from acceptance onto the waiting list for LT. One intraoperative dose of 15 mg/m2 was given, and postoperatively doxorubicin was given weekly at a dose of 10 mg/m2, depending on the clinical course, up to a cumulative dose of 400 mg/m2. Actuarial, 3-year overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) in the control group were 70% and 50%, respectively. In the chemo group, both OS and DFS were 63%. Freedom from recurrence at 3 years was 55% in the control group and 74% in the chemo group. None of the differences was statistically significant. Neoadjuvant treatment with systemic low-dose doxorubicin seems not to improve either survival or freedom from recurrence in patients with HCC undergoing LT.