Tumor Characteristics and Long-Term Outcome of Incidental Hepatocellular Carcinoma After Orthotopic Liver Transplant

Moustafa Mabrouk Mourad, Abdullah Algarni, Menna-Allah Aly, Bridget K Gunson, Hynek Mergental, John Isaac, Paolo Muiesan, Darius Mirza, M Thamara P R Perera, Simon R Bramhall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: Orthotopic liver transplant is the treatment of choice for hepatocellular carcinoma in cirrhotic patients with satisfactory oncologic and survival outcomes. Incidental hepatocellular carcinoma is frequently a reported finding in the explant pathology after orthotopic liver transplant.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: The present study retrospectively analyzed the tumor characteristics and outcomes of 50 incidental hepatocellular carcinomas compared with 252 transplants for known hepatocellular carcinoma.

RESULTS: Patients with incidental hepatocellular carcinoma had lower peak alpha-fetoprotein level (P = .001), lower pretransplant alpha-fetoprotein level (P = .002), smaller total tumor size (P = .0001), fewer tumor numbers (P = .0001), lower level of microvascular invasion (P = .001), more cases within Milan criteria (P = .005), and more well-differentiated tumors (P = .017). However, no difference in survival rates was observed between the 2 groups. In 35 patients (70%) who had incidental hepatocellular carcinoma, pretransplant imaging studies were normal; ultrasonography was used as the only screening tool in 25 of 35 patients (71%) who had incidental hepatocellular carcinoma, and 15 patients (30%) who had incidental hepatocellular carcinoma had regenerative or dysplastic nodules. The accuracy of ultrasonography in our unit for diagnosing hepatocellular carcinoma was 97.5%. A quarter of hepatitis B recipients had incidental hepatocellular carcinoma with a younger median recipient age. Tumor recurrence was higher with incidental hepatocellular carcinoma in hepatitis C recipients (22%). However, the overall recurrence was similar between all hepatitis and nonhepatitis recipients who were transplanted for incidental or known hepatocellular carcinoma.

CONCLUSIONS: Incidental hepatocellular carcinoma has similar outcome as known hepatocellular carcinoma. Early screening of hepatitis B patients is recommended, and cross-sectional imaging is not mandatory for hepatocellular carcinoma screening in patients who are on the waiting list.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-8
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental and clinical transplantation : official journal of the Middle East Society for Organ Transplantation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


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