Can the Dropout Risk of Candidates with Hepatocellular Carcinoma Predict Survival after Liver Transplantation?


Alessandro Cucchetti,


In the last US national conference on liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), a continuous priority score, that incorporates model for end-stage liver disease (MELD), alpha-fetoprotein and tumor size, was recommended to ensure a more equitable liver allocation. However, prioritizing highest alpha-fetoprotein levels or largest tumors may select lesions at a higher risk for recurrence; similarly, patients with higher degree of liver failure could have lower postoperative survival. Data from 300 adult HCC recipients were reviewed and the proposed HCC-MELD equation was applied to verify if it can predict post-transplantation survival. The 5-year survival and recurrence rates after transplantation were 72.8 and 13.5%, respectively. Cox regression analysis confirmed HCC-MELD as predictive of both postoperative survival and recurrence (p < 0.001). The 5-year predicted survival and recurrence rates were plotted against the HCC-MELD-based dropout probability: the higher the dropout probability while on waiting list, the lower the predicted survival after transplantation, that is worsened by hepatitis C positivity; similarly, the higher the predicted HCC recurrence rate after transplantation. The HCC priority score could predict the postoperative survival of HCC recipients and could be useful in selecting patients with greater possibilities of survival, resulting in higher post-transplantation survival rates of HCC populations.