The role of liver transplantation (LT) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has evolved over the past two decades, and transplantation has become one of the few curative treatment modalities for patients with HCC. Early results were poor, but the current restrictive selection criteria can yield excellent results. This review will discuss recent issues in the field, including (1) factors affecting the recurrence of HCC after LT; (2) the effect of downstaging HCC before LT, including transarterial catheter chemoembolization (TACE) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA); and (3) living-donor versus deceased-donor liver transplantation for HCC patients. The most important factors that have been described to affect LT survival include the tumor size, vascular invasion, and the degree of tumor differentiation. Recently, tumor markers, including alpha-fetoprotein and des-gamma carboxy prothrombin, were reported as predictors of HCC recurrence after LT. Furthermore, the experience accumulated with locoregional therapies such as TACE and RFA as bridging procedures to LT, along with the reduced waiting time under the HCC-adjusted MELD (model for endstage liver disease) system for organ allocation has led to improved outcomes. With the recent advances in adult living-donor liver transplantation (LDLT), there may be a marked change in the role of liver transplantation for hepatic malignancies, in particular for HCC.
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