The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is increasing at an alarming rate in the United States, such that HCC has become an important indication for liver transplantation. The role of liver transplantation in patients with HCC has evolved over the past 2 decades, and transplantation has become one of the few curative treatment modalities for patients with HCC, especially in selected patients with favorable tumors. The advent of living donor liver transplantation for adult recipients provides another therapeutic venue, in particular for patients with HCC who are disadvantaged by current allocation algorithms for grafts from deceased donors. Living donor transplantation may limit the waiting time and, as a result, may decrease the progression of disease so that intuitively the recurrence rate should be lower than for recipients who wait for an organ from a deceased donor. There are limited data on the efficacy of living donor liver transplantation in the setting of HCC. Based on a limited cohort of patients undergoing transplantation for HCC at Northwestern University Medical Center, a higher recurrence rate, stage for stage, was found in recipients whose transplants were accelerated ("fast-tracked") by performing a living donor transplant, especially in the era in which patients with HCC were disadvantaged by the allocation algorithm. Clearly, the role of living donor liver transplantation in management of patients with HCC requires prospective direct analysis of both recurrence and dropout rates in comparable patient cohorts with HCC undergoing either deceased or living donor liver transplantation.
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