OBJECTIVE: To evaluate predictors of mortality and impact of treatment in patients developing recurrent hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) following liver transplantation (LT).
SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Despite well-described clinicopathologic predictors of posttransplant HCC recurrence, data on prognosis following recurrence are scarce.
METHODS: Multivariate predictors of mortality following HCC recurrence were identified to develop a risk score model to stratify prognostic subgroups among 106 patients developing posttransplant recurrence from 1984 to 2014, including analysis of recurrence treatment modality on survival.
RESULTS: Of 857 patients undergoing LT, 106 (12.4%) developed posttransplant HCC recurrence (median 15.8 months following LT) with a median post-recurrence survival of 10.6 months. Patients receiving surgical therapy (n = 25) had a median survival of 27.8 months, significantly superior to patients receiving nonsurgical therapy (10.6 months) and best supportive care (3.7 months, P < 0.001). Multivariate predictors of mortality following recurrence included model for end-stage liver disease at LT >23, time to recurrence, >3 recurrent nodules, maximum recurrence size, bone recurrence, alphafetoprotein at recurrence, donor serum sodium, and pretransplant recipient neutrophil-lymphocyte ratio. A risk score model based on multivariate predictors accurately stratified recurrent HCC patients into prognostic subgroups, with low-risk patients (<10 points) demonstrating excellent median survival of 70.6 months, significantly superior to the medium-risk (12.2 months, 10-16 points) and high-risk (3.4 months, >16 points) groups (C-statistic 0.75, P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: In the largest single-center report of recurrent HCC following LT, surgical treatment in well-selected patients is associated with significantly improved survival and should be pursued. A risk score model accurately stratifies prognostic subgroups, and may help guide treatment strategies.