Outcomes in elderly patients undergoing hepatic resection compared to liver transplant for hepatocellular carcinoma

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Journal of surgical oncology


BACKGROUND: Hepatic resection (HR) is an excellent option for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). For patients meeting the Milan criteria, a liver transplant (LT) is also a viable option for patients with HCC, especially those with end-stage liver disease. With increasing rates of LTs amongst the elderly, we sought to determine long-term outcomes in patients who underwent HR compared to LTs in this patient population.

METHODS: We queried the national cancer database for elderly patients (≥70 years) diagnosed with HCC between 2004 and 2020. The primary outcome was overall survival (OS) computed using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazard regression. One-to-one propensity score matching was conducted on the basis of clinicodemographic features to account for baseline differences between patients undergoing each procedure.

RESULTS: Of the 5090 patients included, 4674 (91.8%) and 416 (8.2%) patients underwent HR and LT, respectively. Compared with HR patients, patients receiving LT had better OS (p < 0.001) and greater median survival time (65.6 months HR vs. 97.9 months LT, p < 0.001). On multivariable analysis, a LT was independently associated with improved survival (adjusted hazard ratio: 0.61, 95% confidence interval: 0.50-0.76, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: LT is associated with improved survival for well-selected elderly patients with HCC. Age alone should not be used as the sole parameter for the candidacy of LT in elderly patients.

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ePub ahead of print