Living vs. deceased-donor liver transplantation for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma
With the scarcity of deceased donor liver grafts, living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) is gaining popularity as an alternative to deceased donor liver transplantation (DDLT) for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, as the evidence of cases of LDLT accumulates, several authors have reported higher HCC recurrence rates after LDLT. The suggested reasons for the higher recurrence rates following LDLT are related to the small-for-size graft in LDLT, surgical procedures that are specific to LDLT, and the fast-track to LDLT. Fast-tracking to LDLT may not allow sufficient time for evaluation of the biological aggressiveness of tumors, which may result in high recurrence rates due to inclusion of patients with more inherently aggressive tumors. Actually, some studies that reported higher recurrence rates with LDLT included a larger number of cases of HCC with microvascular invasion or poorly differentiated HCC. In order to exclude biologically aggressive HCC preoperatively, selection criteria incorporating tumor markers, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and des-gamma-carboxyprothrombin (DCP), as well as morphological tumor number and size have been proposed. With more reliable selection criteria incorporating biological markers to eliminate biologically aggressive HCC, LDLT can be a viable treatment option for patients with HCC, providing similar recurrence rates as those achieved with DDLT.