Background: Since March 2002, the United Network for Organ Sharing liver allocation policy has given extra priority to patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who meet specific medical criteria. This study reviews our experience with liver transplantation for HCC under this system. Study Design: Between March 2002 and April 2009, 244 patients with HCC underwent primary liver or liver-kidney transplantation under the current allocation system at the University of Miami. Outcomes including HCC recurrence-free survival (RFS) and patient survival (PS) were assessed retrospectively. Clinical variables that predicted outcomes were analyzed. Results: The median time from listing to transplantation was 48 days. The median follow-up was 27.4 months, with an observed recurrence rate of 10.7%. The RFS rates at 1, 3, and 5 years after transplantation were 96.0%, 89.0%, and 83.6%, respectively. The PS rates at 1, 3, and 5 years after transplantation were 86.3%, 71.5%, and 61.7%, respectively. Among patients diagnosed with T2 HCC, a trend toward improved RFS was observed for those who received preoperative ablative therapy; PS was similar (p > 0.05). Outcomes (RFS and PS) for patients with T3 HCC were similar to those in patients with T2 HCC (p > 0.05). Patients with an alpha-fetoprotein >100 ng/mL had an RFS that was inferior to that in patients with an alpha-fetoprotein ≤100 ng/mL (p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Under the current allocation system, transplantation for HCC results in excellent RFS; PS depends on factors other than HCC; the value of preoperative ablative therapy for patients with T2 HCC is uncertain; the current criteria could be expanded to include selected patients with T3 HCC; and an elevated AFP level is associated with an increased risk of HCC recurrence after transplantation.
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