• Aggressive therapy;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • liver transplantation;
  • tumor biology

This prospective study analyzed the dropout probability and intention-to-treat survival rates of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) selected and treated according to our policy before liver transplantation (LT), with particular attention to those exceeding the Milan criteria. Exclusion criteria for LT were macroscopic vascular invasion, metastases, and poorly differentiated disease at percutaneous biopsy. A specific multi-modal adjuvant algorithm was used to treat HCC before LT. A total of 100 HCC patients were listed for LT: 40 exceeded the Milan criteria in terms of nodule size and number (MILAN OUT) either at listing or in list, while 60 patients continued to meet the criteria (MILAN IN). The Milan criteria did not prove to be a significant predictor of dropout probability or survival rates using Cox's analysis. Cumulative dropout probability at 6 and 12 months was 0% and 4% for MILAN OUT, and 6% and 11% for MILAN IN. The intention-to-treat survival rates at 1 and 3 years were 95% and 85% in MILAN OUT, and 84% and 69% in MILAN IN. None of the 68 transplanted patients had recurrent HCC after a median 16-month follow-up (0–69 months). In conclusion, LT may be effective for selected, aggressively-treated HCC patients exceeding the Milan criteria.