Impact of locoregional therapy and alpha-fetoprotein on outcomes in transplantation for liver cancer: A UNOS Region 6 pooled analysis

Linda L. Wong, Willscott E. Naugler, Jonathan Schwartz, David L. Scott, Renuka Bhattacharya, Jorge Reyes, Susan L. Orloff

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13 Scopus citations


Liver transplantation (LT) provides optimal long-term disease-free survival for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). High pre-LT alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) has been associated with HCC recurrence, but it is unclear whether a drop in AFP or locoregional therapy impacts survival/recurrence after LT. LT-recipients transplanted for HCC in three centers (UNOS Region 6) were reviewed (2006-2009) for demographics, tumor characteristics, locoregional therapy, AFP, recurrence, and survival. Among 211 LT recipients (mean age 56.4 yr, 83% male, mean MELD 12.2), 94% met Milan criteria and 61% received locoregional therapy. Mean disease-free survival (DFS) was 1549.7 d, and 84% are currently alive. Factors affecting DFS included recurrence (RR, 0.074; 95% CI, 0.038-0.14), normal peak AFP (29.6, 95% CI, 2.96-296.3), peak AFP >400 (RR, 0.15; 95% CI, 0.03-0.73) and AFP at LT >400 (RR, 15.5; 95% CI, 2.4-100.5). Twenty-one patients had recurrence and were more likely beyond Milan criteria (5/23(21%) vs. 8/220 (4%), p = 0.0038), with peak AFP >400 and AFP at LT >400 (p = 0.001). Locoregional therapy did not affect mean DFS (1458.0 vs. 1603.8 d, p = 0.05) or recurrence (12.5% vs. 6%). Predictors of recurrence were similar to previous studies, including high AFP and tumor outside Milan criteria. While locoregional therapy itself did not affect DFS/recurrence, a decrease in AFP pre-transplant appears to positively influence outcomes in those who received locoregional therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E72-E79
JournalClinical Transplantation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Alpha-fetoprotein
  • Chemoembolization
  • Hepatocellular cancer
  • Liver transplant
  • Locoregional therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation

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