Background and Aims: The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network recently approved liver transplant (LT) prioritization for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) beyond Milan Criteria (MC) who are down-staged (DS) with locoregional therapy (LRT). We evaluated post-LT outcomes, predictors of down-staging, and the impact of LRT in patients with beyond-MC HCC from the U.S. Multicenter HCC Transplant Consortium (20 centers, 2002-2013). Approach and Results: Clinicopathologic characteristics, overall survival (OS), recurrence-free survival (RFS), and HCC recurrence (HCC-R) were compared between patients within MC (n = 3,570) and beyond MC (n = 789) who were down-staged (DS, n = 465), treated with LRT and not down-staged (LRT-NoDS, n = 242), or untreated (NoLRT-NoDS, n = 82). Five-year post-LT OS and RFS was higher in MC (71.3% and 68.2%) compared with DS (64.3% and 59.5%) and was lowest in NoDS (n = 324; 60.2% and 53.8%; overall P < 0.001). DS patients had superior RFS (60% vs. 54%, P = 0.043) and lower 5-year HCC-R (18% vs. 32%, P < 0.001) compared with NoDS, with further stratification by maximum radiologic tumor diameter (5-year HCC-R of 15.5% in DS/<5 cm and 39.1% in NoDS/>5 cm, P < 0.001). Multivariate predictors of down-staging included alpha-fetoprotein response to LRT, pathologic tumor number and size, and wait time >12 months. LRT-NoDS had greater HCC-R compared with NoLRT-NoDS (34.1% vs. 26.1%, P < 0.001), even after controlling for clinicopathologic variables (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.33, P < 0.001) and inverse probability of treatment-weighted propensity matching (HR = 1.82, P < 0.001). Conclusions: In LT recipients with HCC presenting beyond MC, successful down-staging is predicted by wait time, alpha-fetoprotein response to LRT, and tumor burden and results in excellent post-LT outcomes, justifying expansion of LT criteria. In LRT-NoDS patients, higher HCC-R compared with NoLRT-NoDS cannot be explained by clinicopathologic differences, suggesting a potentially aggravating role of LRT in patients with poor tumor biology that warrants further investigation.
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