Living donor liver transplantation for hepatocellular cancer: an (almost) exclusive Eastern procedure?
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fifth most prevalent cancer and it is linked with chronic liver disease. Liver transplantation (LT) is the best curative treatment modality, since it can cure simultaneously the underlying liver disease and HCC. Milan criteria (MC) are the benchmark for selecting patients with HCC for LT, achieving up to 91% 1-year survival post transplantation. However, when considering intention-to-treat (ITT) rates are substantially lower, mainly due dropout. Additionally, Milan criteria (MC) are too restrictive and more inclusive criteria have been reported with good outcomes. Mainly, in Eastern countries, deceased donors are scarce, therefore Asian centers have developed living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT) to a state-of-art status. There are many eastern centers reporting huge numbers of LDLT with outstanding results. Regarding HCC patients, they have reported many criteria including more advanced tumors achieving reasonable outcomes. Western countries have well-established deceased-donor liver transplantation (DDLT) programs. However, organ shortage and restrictive criteria for listing patients with HCC endorses LDLT as a good option to offer curative treatment to more HCC patients. However, there are some controversial reports claiming higher rates of HCC recurrence after LDLT than DDLT. An extensive review included 30 studies with cohorts of HCC patients who underwent LDLT in both East and West countries. We reported also the results of our Institution, in Brazil, where it was performed the first LDLT. This review also addresses the eligibility criteria for transplanting patients with HCC developed in Western and Eastern countries.