Allocation policy for hepatocellular carcinoma in the MELD era

Department of Surgery, Division of Transplantation, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0780, USA.
Liver Transplantation (Impact Factor: 4.24). 11/2007; 13(11 Suppl 2):S36-43. DOI: 10.1002/lt.21329
Source: PubMed


Currently, liver transplantation is the optimal cure for hepatocellular cancer (HCC) limited to the liver. The requisite use of a scarce resource and the effective "competition" between transplant candidates with and without HCC necessitates an allocation policy that defines the subset of HCC patients appropriate for transplantation and their equitable waiting-list prioritization relative to non-HCC patients. Under Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) allocation, HCC candidates must meet the Milan criteria (single tumor < or =5 cm in diameter or 2 or 3 tumors, each <3 cm in diameter) to qualify for exceptional HCC waiting-list consideration. Their waiting-list prioritization is based on estimating progression risk beyond the Milan criteria (termed dropout), an event for HCC patients considered equivalent to death for non-HCC patients. Although the Milan criteria may be too restrictive, thereby denying deserving patients access to transplantation, high rates of understaging by pretransplantation radiographic imaging and concern for erosion of recurrence-free survival rates have dampened enthusiasm for relaxation of tumor guidelines. The efficacy of pretransplantation locoregional therapies to reduce dropout, downstage patients, and/or decrease posttransplantation recurrence remains to be determined. Genomic, molecular, or clinical criteria to accurately differentiate HCC patients whose disease will recur from those whose disease will not recur would resolve much of the current controversy regarding appropriate criteria for HCC patients to qualify for transplantation.

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    • "Guidelines from both the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the European Association for the Study of the Liver recommend liver transplantation for patients with portal hypertension, even when the liver function is in Child A class.13,14 However, according to the current allocation policy, model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) exception score is not allocated to patients with a HCC no more than 2 cm.15 So, patients with a HCC no more than 2 cm and normal liver function have no priority for liver transplantation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the outcomes of liver transplantation and resection for very early hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, ≤ 2 cm) patients with Child-pugh A liver function and portal hypertension. Methods: From 2008 to 2013, 38 patients with Child-pugh class A liver function and portal hypertension were diagnosed as very early HCC, of whom 13 patients who received liver transplantation and 25 patients underwent liver resection. We compared the preoperative characteristics, recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) rates of two group. Results: The baseline characteristics of two groups were similar. No perioperative mortality and liver failure were observed in both groups. The 1-, 3- and 5-year RFS rates of patients received liver resection and liver transplantation were 92.3%, 92.3% 92.3% and 92.0%, 71.7% and 64.5% respectively (P=0.140). The 1-, 3- and 5-year OS rates of two groups were also similar (100%, 91.7% and 91.7% for group T versus 100%, 93.3% and 93.3% for group R, P=0.695). Conclusion: Liver resection can offer satisfactory outcomes for very early HCC patients with well liver function and portal hypertension and should be considered as the first line choice for selected patients.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Pakistan Journal of Medical Sciences Online
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    • "It was noted that the dropout rate for T1 tumours in the pre-MELD era was under 10%, which is less than the overall waiting list mortality. This has thus led to elimination of the score upgrading for T1 lesions and a lesser upgrade for T2 lesions [17] [18]. This has not necessarily had an adverse impact on survival, and there has been a significant increase in the number of transplants performed for early HCC in cirrhosis [19] "
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    ABSTRACT: With rising incidence and emergence of effective treatment options, the management of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a complex multidisciplinary process. There is still little consensus and uniformity about clinicopathological staging systems. Resection and liver transplantation have been the cornerstone of curative surgical treatments with recent emergence of ablative techniques. Improvements in diagnostics, surgical techniques, and postoperative care have lead to dramatically improved results over the years. The most appropriate treatment plan has to be individualised and depends on a variety of patient and tumour-related factors. Very small HCCs discovered on surveillance have the best outcomes. Patients with advanced cirrhosis and tumours within Milan criteria should be offered transplantation. Resection is best for small solitary tumours with preserved liver function. Ablative techniques are suitable for low volume tumours in patients unfit for either resection or transplantation. The role of downstaging and bridging therapy is not clearly established.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2011
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    • "Prioritization was also reduced for candidates with T2 lesions: at first they were given a score of 24, reduced more recently to 22. However, patients with HCC in stage T2 have their score upgraded by three points for every three months on the waiting list as long as tumor burden remains within the established criteria for OLT [33]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Adoption of the Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) to select and prioritize patients for liver transplantation represented a turning point in organ allocation. Prioritization of transplant recipients switched from time accrued on the waiting list to the principle of "sickest first". The MELD score incorporates three simple laboratory parameters (serum creatinine and bilirubin, and INR for prothrombin time) and stratifies patients according to their disease severity in an objective and continuous ranking scale. Concordance statistics have demonstrated its high accuracy in stratifying patients according to their risk of dying in the short-term (three months). Further validations of MELD as a predictor of survival at various temporal end-points have been obtained in independent patient cohorts with a broad spectrum of chronic liver disease. The MELD-based liver graft allocation policy has led to a reduction in waitlist new registrations and mortality, shorter waiting times, and an increase in transplants, without altering overall graft and patient survival rates after transplantation. MELD limitations are related either to the inter-laboratory variability of the parameters included in the score, or to the inability of the formula to predict mortality accurately in specific settings. For some conditions, such as hepatocellular carcinoma, widely accepted MELD corrections have been devised. For others, such as persistent ascites and hyponatremia, attempts to improve MELD's predicting power are currently underway, but await definite validation.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2010 · Journal of Hepatology
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