Liver transplantation for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.
The rise of infection with hepatitis C virus worldwide and the lack of effective treatment for this infection has led to a rise in the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Moreover, it is now accepted that the cirrhotic liver, regardless of etiology, is a nidus for tumor formation. A landmark study of 60 patients by Mazzaferro et al, published in 1996, forever changed the way in which surgeons approach this disease. The Milan criteria (one lesion <5 cm or three lesions < 3 cm each) were adopted by the United Network for Organ Sharing in 2002 as the criteria by which patients would be given exception points for liver transplantation for HCC. Resection for HCC in the cirrhotic patient has poor outcomes, and many patients' livers cannot be resected due to underlying portal hypertension and thrombocytopenia. Results of transplantation are excellent, with an 80% 5-year survival. Finally, it has been demonstrated that the use of sirolimus for immunosuppression management in these patients may improve long-term disease-free survival; however, no consensus has been reached across the transplant community.
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