Definitive locoregional therapy (LRT) versus bridging LRT and liver transplantation with wait-and-not-treat approach for very early stage hepatocellular carcinoma

Peiman Habibollahi, Stephen Hunt, Therese Bitterman, Terence P. Gade, Michael C. Soulen, Gregory Nadolski

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1 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Since the change in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) policy excluding patients with very early stage hepatocellular carcinoma (veHCC, single tumor nodule <2 cm) from receiving Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) exception points, patients eligible to receive liver transplantation (LT) who fall in this category are commonly treated with locoregional therapy (LRT) after progression to UNOS T2 stage (1 nodule of 2–5 cm or up to 3 nodules, none above 3 cm). The aim of the current study is to compare the outcomes of patients treated with bridging LRT and LT with wait-and-not-treat approach with patients treated with definitive LRT. METHODS A retrospective study has been performed on patients with veHCC evaluated in multidisciplinary liver tumor clinic of a large academic center between 2004–2011. Patients eligible for LT were assigned to the wait-and-not-treat group while patients who were not eligible were assigned to the definitive LRT group. Tumor size, time to treatment, severity of liver disease, recurrence and survival from time of detection were reviewed and recorded. RESULTS A total of 19 patients were identified and treated with definitive LRT while 57 patients were treated with bridging LRT prior to LT after disease progression to T2 stage. Patients in the definitive LRT group were older (70.4±10.2 years vs. 58.7±5.9 years, P < 0.001) and had more comorbid conditions compared with the wait-and-not-treat group. Mean survival for definitive LRT group at the end of 5 years was 34.3±6.0 months with a median of 30.3 months (95% CI, 5.7–55.0 months) compared with 48.7±2.6 months for the wait-and-not-treat group, respectively (median not reached). The 3-and 5-year survival rates were 53.3% and 33.3% for the definitive LRT group compared with 78.9% and 68.4% for the patients in the wait-and-not-treat group. Survival rate at the end of 5 years was significantly better for the wait-and-not-treat group (P = 0.013). CONCLUSION Based on the findings of current retrospective study, treating veHCC (UNOS T1 stage) patients listed for LT with bridging LRT after disease progression to T2 stage appears to be safe and effective with high 5-year survival rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-218
Number of pages6
JournalDiagnostic and Interventional Radiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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