Background. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary malignant liver tumor. Currently, liver transplantation may be the optimal treatment for HCC in cirrhotic patients. Patient selection is currently based on tumor size. We developed a program to offer liver transplantation to selected patients with HCC outside of traditional criteria. Methods. Retrospective review for patients transplanted with HCC between April 2008 and June 2017. Patients were grouped by tumor size according to Milan, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), and outside UCSF criteria. Patient demographics, laboratory values, and outcomes were compared. Patients radiographically outside Milan criteria were selected based on tumor control with locoregional therapy (LRT) and 9 months of stability from LRT. α-fetoprotein values were not exclusionary. Results. Two hundred twenty HCC patients were transplanted, 138 inside Milan, 23 inside UCSF, and 59 beyond UCSF criteria. Patient survival was equivalent at 1, 3, or 5 years despite pathologic tumor size. Waiting time to transplantation was not significantly different at an average of 344 days. In patients outside UCSF, tumor recurrence was equivalent to Milan and UCSF criteria recipients who waited >9 months from LRT. Although tumor recurrence was more likely in outside of UCSF patients (3%versus 9%versus 15%; P = 0.02), recurrence-free survival only trended toward significance among the groups (P = 0.053). Conclusions. Selective patients outside of traditional size criteria can be effectively transplanted with equivalent survival to patients with smaller tumors, even when pathologic tumor burden is considered. Tumor stability over time can be used to help select patients for transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Ablation Techniques/methods
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents/therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular/diagnosis
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant/methods
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Liver/diagnostic imaging
  • Liver Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Liver Transplantation/standards
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy/methods
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local/epidemiology
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Patient Selection
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sorafenib/therapeutic use
  • Time Factors
  • Tumor Burden

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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