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Prognostic Relevance of a Complete Pathologic Response in Liver Transplantation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Michał Grąt MD, PhD, Marek Krawczyk MD, PhD, Jan Stypułkowski MD, Marcin Morawski MD, Maciej Krasnodębski MD, PhD, Michał Wasilewicz MD, PhD, Zbigniew Lewandowski PhD, Karolina Grąt MD, Waldemar Patkowski MD, PhD, Krzysztof Zieniewicz MD, PhD
Hepatobiliary Tumors
Volume 26, Issue 13 / December , 2019

Abstract

Background

A complete pathologic response (CPR) after neoadjuvant treatment is reported to be associated with an exceptionally low risk of recurrence after liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study aimed to evaluate the prognostic role of CPR in liver transplantation for HCC.

Methods

This retrospective cohort study was based on 222 HCC transplant recipients. Incidence of recurrence and survival at 5 years were the primary and secondary outcome measures, respectively. Competing risk analyses were applied to evaluate recurrence incidence and its predictors. Propensity score matching was performed to compare the outcomes for patients after neoadjuvant treatment with and without CPR.

Results

Neoadjuvant treatment was performed for 127 patients, 32 of whom achieved CPR (25.2%). Comparison of baseline characteristics showed that the patients with CPR were at lowest baseline recurrence risk, followed by treatment-naïve patients and patients without CPR. Adjusted for potential confounders, CPR did not have any significant effects on tumor recurrence. No significant net reclassification improvement was noted after addition of CPR to existing criteria. Neoadjuvant treatment without CPR was associated with increased risk of recurrence in subgroups within the Milan criteria (p = 0.016), with alpha-fetoprotein concentration (AFP) model not exceeding 2 points (p = 0.021) and within the Warsaw criteria (p = 0.007) compared with treatment-naïve patients who were at risk similar to those with CPR. The 5-year incidences of recurrence in propensity score-matched patients with and without CPR were respectively 14.0% and 15.9% (p = 0.661), with corresponding survival rates of 73.2% and 67.4%, respectively (p = 0.329).

Conclusions

The findings showed that CPR is not independently associated with long-term outcomes after liver transplantation for HCC.

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