Access to Liver Transplantation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Does Candidate Age Matter?

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Abstract

Background: Liver transplantation (LT) offers an effective alternative treatment for unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Despite its growing acceptance and longer life expectancy rates, survival data in older patients are conflicting and consensus guidelines are lacking in terms of a cut-off age range for operations. Study Design: We explored our prospectively maintained institutional database to identify patients diagnosed with HCC between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2019. Long-term oncologic outcomes were analyzed in patients undergoing LT or hepatic resection, with patient age considered as the primary variable. Results: In total, 1,629 patients with HCC were identified, of whom 700 were considered for curative operations (LT, n = 538; resection, n = 162). Patients older than 65 years were less likely to be considered for LT (p < 0.01), although there were no age-related differences in the de-listing rate among age groups (p = 0.90). Older patients had overall survival (OS) outcomes comparable with younger patients after LT (3-year OS: 85.5% vs 84%; 5-year OS: 73.9% vs 77%; p = 0.26). Long-term survival was lower in the group who underwent resection, however, older patients still demonstrated equivalent OS outcomes (3-year OS: 59% vs 64.8%; 5-year OS: 44.8% vs 49%; p = 0.13). There were no differences in the development of local or distant metastatic disease between groups. Conclusions: Although older candidates were less likely to be considered for LT in the management of HCC, judicious matching can lead to OS data comparable with their younger counterparts. Previous age misconceptions need to be challenged without the concern of worse long-term oncologic outcomes after surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-151
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Volume233
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

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