Hypothesis: After liver transplantation, patients with stage III hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) experience survivals similar to those of patients with less advanced disease and of matched control subjects. Design: Retrospective review of prospectively collected database. Setting: University hospital. Patients: Fifty-one adults with HCC and 153 matched adults without HCC who underwent orthotopic liver transplantation. Main Outcome Measures: One-, 3-, and 5-year survivals for all groups. After matching for year of transplantation, age, sex, and underlying liver disease, long-term survival was compared between groups. Rates of recurrence were also measured in the HCC groups. Results: From August 1, 1985, to February 28, 2002, we performed 635 adult liver transplantations, including 51 (8%) in patients with HCC. One hundred fifty-one patients without HCC who underwent transplantation were selected as controls. Patient demographic features were similar between case-control groups. The overall 5-year survival trend was worse for patients with HCC vs their matched controls (48% vs 65%; P=.07); however, this survival disadvantage was eliminated when patients with stages I through III HCC were combined and compared with their matched controls (59% vs 63%; P= .96). Survival of patients with stage III disease was comparable to that of matched controls (65% vs 59%; P=.44). Conclusions: For patients with stages I through III disease, long-term survival is comparable to that of matched controls, and only patients with stage IV disease experience poorer survival. Consideration should be given to granting exception points to patients with stage III disease.
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