BACKGROUND - Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) is the only treatment option for unresectable hepatoblastoma (HB) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in children. Aggregated outcomes of OLT for these hepatic malignancies have not been evaluated in the United Network for Organ Sharing national database.
PURPOSE - The purpose of this study was to evaluate graft and patient survival in pediatric OLT recipients with HB and HCC.
METHODS - Data from the United Network for Organ Sharing Standard Transplant and Research Files were analyzed and included pediatric (<18 years) OLT recipients with HB or HCC from 1987 to 2004. The effects of diagnosis on pretransplant variables were evaluated using analysis of variance methods or chi2 tests, as appropriate. Actuarial survival and effect of diagnosis on survival were determined using Kaplan-Meier methods and log-rank tests.
RESULTS - Since 1987, 152 OLTs have been performed in 135 pediatric patients for HB and 43 OLTs in 41 pediatric patients for HCC. Respective 1-, 5-, and 10-year patient survival after OLT was 79%, 69%, and 66% for HB and 86%, 63%, and 58% for HCC (P = .73). The primary cause of death for both groups was metastatic or recurrent disease, accounting for 54% of deaths in the HB group and 86% in the HCC group (P = .338). Patients with hepatoblastoma were younger (mean age, 2.9 +/- 2.5 vs 10.4 +/- 4.8 years for the HCC group; P < .001) and more likely to receive a living donor organ (16% vs 4%, P = .03). A greater proportion of the patients with HB had previous abdominal surgery than patients with HCC (63% HB vs 37% HCC, P = .04). Pretransplant medical condition and transplant era were associated with graft and patient survival on univariate and multivariate analysis (all P < .05).
CONCLUSIONS - Orthotopic liver transplantation remains a viable option for pediatric patients with unresectable primary hepatic malignancies and results in good long-term survival. Pretransplant medical condition is an important predictor of outcome. Thus, in conjunction with better chemotherapy regimens, earlier evaluation for OLT in patients with unresectable HB and HCC may result in yet further improved long-term survival.