Transplantation versus liver resection in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common solid cancers in the world. Its treatment strategies have evolved significantly over the past few decades but the best treatment outcomes remain in the surgical arena. Especially for early HCCs, the options are abundant. However, surgical resection and liver transplantation provide the best long-term survival. In addition, there are evidence the ablative therapy such as radiofrequency ablation, could provide equivalent outcome as compared to resection. However, HCC is a unique malignancy as the majority of patients develop this cancer in the background of cirrhotic livers. As such, the treatment consideration should not only look at the oncological perspective but also the functional status of the liver parenchyma, i.e., the state of cirrhosis and presence of portal hypertension. Even with the most widely adopted staging systems for HCC such as the Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) staging system and many other staging systems, none of them are ideal in including the various considerations for patients with HCCs. In this article, the key issues between choosing surgical resection and liver transplantation are discussed. A comprehensive review of the current surgical options are outlined in order to explore the pros and cons of each option.