Background: To determine factors associated with outcomes and microvascular invasion (MVI) in patients undergoing liver transplantation (LT) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Methods: Between July 1996 and August 2008 at the Universities of Kentucky or Tennessee, LT recipients were retrospectively analysed.
Results: One hundred and one patients had HCC in the explanted liver; one patient was excluded because of fibrolamellar histology. Seventy-nine (79%) were male and 81 (81%) were older than 50. HCC was incidental in 32 patients (32%). Median follow-up was 31 months. Ten patients (10%) developed recurrence, which was associated with poor survival (P= 0.006). Overall 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival rates were 87%, 69% and 62%, respectively. Excluding patients with lymph node metastasis (LNM) or MVI yielded 91%, 81% and 75% survival at the same time points. MVI was independently associated with recurrence (OR 28.40, 95% CI 1.77–456.48, P= 0.018) and decreased survival (OR 4.70, 95% CI 1.24–17.80, P= 0.023), and LNM with decreased survival (OR 6.05, 95% CI 1.23–29.71, P= 0.027). Tumour size (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.2–13.5, P= 0.013) and alpha-fetoproptein (AFP) > 100 (OR 5.0, 95% CI 1.4–18.1, P= 0.006) were associated with MVI.
Conclusions: MVI greatly increases the risk of recurrence and death after LT for HCC, and is strongly associated with tumour size and AFP > 100.